Each year on my birthday I try to find something revealing and maybe insightful to say. How successful I’ve been at that only you, dear reader, can tell me. This year, though, feels different. My cancer diagnosis has changed my perspective on life a bit. It’s made me more grateful for the time I have, more determined to make the most of it, and more cognizant of what’s important to me.

In my prior birthday posts I sometimes spoke about getting older. I don’t think I realized then that getting older isn’t a guarantee. Being more attuned to the cancer community I’ve been exposed to people much sicker than I ever was, including a few that did die young. I wonder what their plans for the future were. I wonder what opportunities and ambitions they passed up thinking that they would have more time, or more money, or more energy in a future they’ll now never get to see. And I wonder what sort of amazing things we lost in them not getting one.

Luckily, I am still here and (hopefully) will be for at least a little while longer. So let’s talk about my hopes for the future. Things I want to do. Works I want to create. Ways I want to make the world a distant fraction of a percent better than it is right now. Consider this something of a bucket list.

  1. Be there for Elijah as he grows up: Obvious, I know, but it’s my main motivation for doing whatever I can to grow old. I want to see the type of man my son becomes. I want to help guide him into being that man. I want to meet his children. More than anything. If the rest of my life is a huge waste, this will still make it worthwhile.
  2. Gift Elijah Money: What I mean by this is that I want to save money specifically for him to have when he becomes an adult. Not a college fund necessarily because he may not want to go to college, but a nice chunk of change for him to decide what to do with. Travel? Sure. Buy a house? Okay. Save and invest? Good idea. Go to trade school? Sounds great. Start a business? Go for it. The point is to give him the head start my wife and I weren’t afforded, and also maybe avoid some of those predatory loans young people are forced into.
  3. Take my family to Vietnam: My wife was born there, but hasn’t been back since she was a young girl. I want to experience her birth country with her, and I know she wants to share that with our son.
  4. Go back to Greece: A few years ago we took a cruise around the Greek Isles. While I’m sour on cruises because of their terrible environmental impact (and because my wife doesn’t have much in the way of sea legs), our experiences in Greece were amazing. We’d like to go back.
  5. See America: This country I live in is huge, with myriad cultures and experiences to be explored. I want to do a solid sampler platter of it all. Big cities, small towns, remote forests–pretty much everything except maybe the desert. Not huge on sand.
  6. Visit all 32 NHL Arenas / Cities: Even though the NHL is problematic, and hockey in general has a shit culture, I love the sport. I love playing it, watching it, and investing in it. And since each NHL team is based in a medium-to-large city, it’s a good excuse to do some traveling and sight-seeing. So far, I’ve only hit Buffalo (duh), Philadelphia (duh again), and Montreal. Still have 29 to go.
  7. Make a Movie: I’ve been saving and investing with the hopes of eventually having enough money to make a microbudget film. I think I have the right script idea, so now I just need to write it, fund it, and gather cast and crew. In my head it’s totally doable. In reality, it’ll be tough.
  8. Write Like I’m Running Out of Time: I have so many story ideas I’m excited about. Pulpy action / horror stories, sci-fi action comedy, existential stories about religion and grief, and stories I’ve tried telling in the past but didn’t have the skills to get them right. I want to write it all before I run out of time. It’s not really possible, is it? I’ll always have new ideas that I’m excited about. But I can try.
  9. Reenter the Screenwriting Arena: I haven’t written a full screenplay since 2015 or so. I was pretty good at it, but not quite good enough to break through. I think with the experience I’ve gained writing short stories and novels, plus the life experiences I’ve had since then, I could write something special.
  10. Create a Webseries: I initially meant to do this last year, but then, ya know, cancer. It’s something I can write, shoot, act in, and edit myself. I think the idea is pretty good, but the execution will be tricky as a one-man show. Maybe this year will be the year.
  11. Publish: My ultimate goal is to be a hybrid author. Right now I want to traditionally publish my novels and self-publish novellas and short story collections, as I did with Anh Nguyen and Through Dark Into Light.
  12. Get Involved in Politics: I’ve always had an interest in politics. That’s why I minored in Political Science. Getting involved, though, has always eluded me. It’s hard to know how, which isn’t a good excuse. There are also time considerations, and if you really pursue politics the issue of being a public figure (no matter how minor). It’s an ugly arena, but a necessary one.
  13. Volunteer: Again, time is tough to overcome here. Volunteering and politics are closely related in my mind, as depending on where you volunteer that act on its own can be considered a political act. Mostly, though, I just want to contribute positively to people’s lives in some way.
  14. Earn Decent Passive Income: I’m slowly working on this. Between publishing and investing, I have some passive income coming in, but it’s really only worth a couple of decent dinners per year right now. I’m not going to be paying the mortgage with it anytime soon. The goal, then, is to get to that point.

Obviously, a lot of these goals could be broken into sub-goals. I have specific places in America I would like to see, specific areas I would like to volunteer, etc. But as a broad list to look forward to for whatever might be left of my life (if cancer doesn’t get me, maybe an assassin will?) I think it’s a good one.

Now to just make it happen.