100 Things You Honestly DON’T Have to Do Before You Die | Alternet.
Thank goodness! I really wasn’t looking forward to skydiving, para sailing, etc. Bucket lists are way, way down there near the bottom of my priority list. Guess I’m just a boring lout. It’s alright. I’m okay with just trying to be where I am instead of obsessing about where I’d rather be.- PG
February 5, 2014 |
“OMG, you have to watch Breaking Bad! You simply have to. Stop whatever you’re doing and watch it right now. Stop resuscitating that patient, and watch Breaking Bad. Stop flying that plane, crash it into that field and fire up Netflix.”
As I understand it, we are now all legally obliged to watch Breaking Bad. Our prisons are already full to bursting with people who failed to watch The West Wing or The Wirewhen they were expressly told to. I even saw a woman prosecuted last week for not having read Gone Girl. What was she thinking?
These days we are told we simply have to watch, to read or just to do, very many things: 100 Things to Do Before You Die; 100 Films You Have to See, 100 Books You Must Read If You Don’t Want Everyone at Work to Realise Exactly What a Shallow, Self-Obsessed, X Factor Fan You Really Are.
I am very keen to do what I’m told at all times. If I’m told there are 25 Must-Dive Reefs or 30 Loganberry Recipes You Can’t Live Without then I take that responsibility very seriously and immediately go out shopping for scuba equipment and soft fruit.
But, while I can’t stress enough that I don’t wish to be a troublemaker, there is a slight problem with the maths.
The average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for 233,600 of those hours (more if you’re a cricket fan). You will be working for 74,060 hours (fewer if you’re Usain Bolt) and you’ll be waiting for your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850.
Take off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures of your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend on Facebook.
You suddenly find yourself with just 182,334 useful hours in your life for reading, watching films and baking your signature Loganberry Pecan Flapjacks.
But it gets worse. Given that you are reading this you are, let’s be honest, at least 40. If you were under 40 you’d be reading the cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto V instead (FYI, the dirt-bike code is Circle, X, L1, Circle, Circle, L1, Circle, R1, R2, L2, L1, L1). This means your available hours now stand at 91,167. That’s what you have left. Just over 90,000 hours. To do everything.
So, Breaking Bad should be a breeze: just 61 hours, or 0.000667% of the rest of your life. And – I don’t know if you’ve heard – apparently it’s amazing.
But if you wanted to watch every episode of the Guardian’s Top 50 TV series of all time, that would take up another 2,080 of your precious hours. Add in two new series a year – every year – that you simply have to watch, and that’s a further 4,000 hours. Then add in The Great British Bake Off and, in all, that’s around 6,130 hours of television you simply have to see. That’s nearly 7% of your available life
Watching every film on the BFI’s list of The Greatest Films of All Time will take you 217 hours (with an extra half-hour if you want to watch the hilarious “blooper reel” at the end of Citizen Kane). You will also have to watch at least one new film a month that Charlotte at work keeps banging on about, and one foreign-language film a month because Peter Bradshaw has called it “a stunning new benchmark for Latvian cinema”. That takes your total for films you simply have to see up to 2,233 hours.
And now an even bigger problem: books. Let’s read the Observer’s 100 Greatest Novels. Add in one new book a month that Charlotte has recommended (I like Charlotte, but I wasn’t absolutely convinced by A Street Cat Named Bob) and one new book a month that the Review section has described as Margaret Atwood meets EL James. Sum total of hours spent on books you simply have to read? 6,360.
Then you also have to find time to swim with dolphins, to watch the sunset over Machu Picchu, to kiteboard in the Andes, and to do any number of other tiresome things you see people doing in their profile pictures on Soulmates.
There are also 50 boutique hotels you must visit, 100 ways to make your garden or your children happy, and 5,000 fonts you can’t PowerPoint without.
And these, of course, are just the things you have to do. The mandatory things. You will still have to find time for the things you actually like doing, such as popping bubble wrap.
Isn’t it time to end this tyranny? In the 1970s we weren’t told what we had to do all the time. Mainly because there were only about eight things you actually could do, so everyone simply did all of them as a matter of course. But there are now too many things in the world, too much stuff. None of the old stuff has gone anywhere, and new things are being added all the time. Citizen Kane still exists, but now Piranha 3DD does as well.
Let’s end this madness shall we? By all means watch Breaking Bad (I’ve heard it’s good – have you heard it’s good?), but the only bit of TV you actually have to see before you die is the episode of Superstars where Kevin Keegan falls off his bike. Use the time I have saved you to watch the TV you actually want to. I recommend Pointless, for example.
The only films from the BFI’s list that you must watch are Some Like It Hot, The Godfather and Singin’ in the Rain. You have my permission to never watch FW Murnau’s 1927 masterpiece Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans or Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari. Watch them if you want, but you don’t have to. You also don’t have to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy (that’s 47 hours saved right there).
Of 100 Greatest Novels, you can happily ignore all of them except Scoopand The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I am assuming you’ve already read To Kill a Mockingbird for O-level. Read Shakespeare if you want to, but you don’t have to. (Though if you don’t ever read him, you’re not allowed to say he’s rubbish. Deal?) You should probably read Great Expectations, but feel free to leave Dickens there. And I think Wuthering Heights is the only Emily Brontë novel worth reading (someone will rise to this, just you wait and see).
You must never swim with dolphins. If they ever want to swim with you, I’m sure they’ll let you know. Forget Machu Picchu; the sunset on the west coast of Scotland is as beautiful as any you’ll see in the world, and it’s really nearby. And by all means go kiteboarding above the Andes, but that might be the thing you do literally just before you die. And we would miss your Soulmates subscription.
In reality there are very few things you actually have to do before you die. They include: ring your mum more often; recycle; watch The Book of Mormon.
Please feel free to leave other suggestions online. The simple things, not the showy things. The things that make the world a better place. I believe, for example, that I’ve already mentioned popping bubble wrap.
But before you do that, have you seen Breaking Bad? You must.