Each year I put together a list of things I want to accomplish in the coming 12 months. Perhaps more revealing than what I actually complete in the 365 days I allot myself is what I purpose to do. Over the years, certain themes are perennial attendees in my dervishes of possibility but never enjoy the satisfaction of being crossed out at year’s end. My first instinct is to perform an exhaustive analysis of my lists—a meta-birthday goal rundown, if you will. A wiser, less foppish move would be not to aim quite so high, to realize my own frailty and inconstancy and work within the bounds of earth and air apportioned to my hands and lungs. So is 26 the year of lower expectations for the sake of upping my goal hit rate? No. My reach still exceeds my grasp. In fact, I’d like to think that my loftiest objectives will eventually find their way onto a yet-nonexistent life list and that the wiser version of me is extending a hand of grace to 27-year old Payton by not oppressing him under the weight of unrealistic expectation. So with that pretext , I swallow a dose of public accountability—my 26-for-26.
1. Read Cien Años de Soledad.
2. Memorize 26 verses of Scripture.
3. Try one new food or drink per month in Mexico City.
4. Take salsa lessons.
5. Immerse myself in nature once a month.
6. Do a show or small concert in Mexico City.
7. Remember friends’ birthdays and celebrate them.
8. Volunteer once a month.
9. Take 26 pictures that capture the year.
10. Get a job after the Fulbright.
11. Visit Osprey Point.
12. Write 26 letters (postcards count, too).
13. Take a grad school entrance exam.
14. Build or refinish a piece of furniture.
15. Do a full-on study of Romans.
16. Get a calling card and stationery.
17. Take a road trip.
18. Memorize a poem.
19. Research 5 figures in history to view as role models.
20. Learn to program (Java, HTML5, CSS, VBA), even if just a little bit.
21. Have success in my current job.
22. Be a mentor and have a mentor.
23. Host a dinner.
24. Focus on a few prayer needs and pray for them all year.
25. Spend four weekends in silence and solitude.
26. Keep a plant alive.