Twenty-Six Things

by Skyler Jeffrey Fike


Last October a good friend of mine and I were heading back from a late night coffee at Cafe Brazil. As tends to be the case with most of our conversations, we talk about ideas, dreams, or anything stirring in our minds at the moment. Sprouting from the conversation he spouted off a few of the 25 things he wants to do or accomplish during his 25th year of life. So, as the tacking on of newer years would progress, so too would the corresponding number of life-giving things to do and see. This would become his tradition and my encouragement.

Usually I find endeavors like this ideal but lofty and discouraging. My track record of completing tasks or “achieving goals” efficiently and on time, and especially en masse, has always been a challenge for me. In small bits and strides it’s not so bad, but give me a checklist of 25 things to actually follow through with and a timeframe within which to do it and I become so daunted that the idea itself reaches, quite easily, in fact, the point of non-consideration.

But that is a paralyzing and boring way to live.

What is important here is for me to examine the motive underlying the goals themselves; and that is, it is not itself the act of their final completion but the life received from their mere execution. Certainly, claiming myself the victor of achievement would be fantastic, but the motive itself must be to experience life and all its facets or else I have failed. My skepticism becomes a robber who sneaks in and tells me that good things aren’t worth trying if I don’t possess the absolute promise of holistic completion. My friend admits that he falls short of these goals, yet he still manages to release himself from the depression that might come with lack of completion of a thing. But, October 3rd rolls around and a new list of 26 things to do in the next 12 months prevails. New goals are set. New experiences--good or bad or incomplete as they may be--pre-decided and anticipated.

With that I am determined to try something new and see how it plays out. I am tempted to not set some lofty goals, ones beyond my reach, ones that are likely to prove more discouraging than the excitement of setting them in the first place, but I am going to do it. At the very worst I will have friends alongside to keep me accountable to these goals, question me, prompt me, and ask how things are going. Then, at the end, fully completed or not, I will look back on my 26th year of life having demolished (or at least silenced for a while) my mind of skepticism. I will look back and be excited about what I’ve done or seen or accomplished, and then compile, yet again, an entirely new list of things to experience in the year to come.

SO, without further adieu, the hopeful 26:

  1. Travel to Europe and walk El Camino de Santiago.
  2. Design a house.
  3. Survive a hurricane.
  4. Run a half-marathon.
  5. Paint one watercolor painting every month.
  6. Call my parents and grandmother once a week.
  7. Implement one new creative idea.
  8. Complete at least 3/4 of my required reading for the year at the Academy.
  9. Figure out my Calling in life.
  10. Post to my blog at least once a week.
  11. Sell 100 photos.
  12. Pay off debts by September 17th of 2013.
  13. Travel to Boston.
  14. Travel to New York.
  15. Create a short film or write a screenplay.
  16. Read in order through all four Gospel books in the Bible.
  17. Try as many of the Dogfish Head beers as possible while I live in Maryland.
  18. Write one poem every month.
  19. Produce a thesis on social architecture and professional reform.
  20. Take two more (of seven. I’ve completed one) of my architectural licensing exams.
  21. Try 5 new types of food.
  22. Read through the stack of books that are sitting on my desk next to my bed.
  23. Visit my sister in Savannah before she graduates.
  24. Make or produce four Christmas gifts that I give out this year.
  25. Meet my wife. (I'm sort of kidding. Kind of. But if you know anybody...)
  26. (Comment below with an idea for something and I will pick one of the things to do. Be creative. Nothing boring.)


(wine glasses Clink!, Clink!)

"Hear! Hear!"