Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't Pursue Happiness, Create it

It must be a conspiracy….or destiny. Whatever you call it, something, somewhere is pushing me to pursue my dreams. Last night after a long, long, long week in the office, I decided that I was finally going to watch the movie UP. I had had it from Netflix for at least 2 months now. It had traveled with me to Taipei…and back…..Texas…...and back…….and New York….. and back….A couple of weeks ago I told one of my friends that I still hadn’t watched it and she told me to watch it alone at home as I would probably cry my eyes out. A good thing I never got around watching it on one of my plane rides as crying your eyes out next to fellow passengers is probably not such a great idea.

So with nothing planned on Friday night I decided it was time to watch this movie. I poured myself a glass of wine and started watching. My friend had been right. I started crying after about 15 minutes when Ellie dies without having pursued her dream of building a house on top of Paradise Falls. Carl finds the book Ellie shared with him years ago, when they first met as kids. They both had a dream of becoming explorers. He looks at her book again after all these years and comes to Ellie's page that says “stuff I am going to do" and I tell myself: you see, keep pursuing your dreams, do the things you always wanted to do before it is too late.

To pursue Ellie's dream, the old man decides to go on an adventure and ties enough balloons to his house so it can fly and off he goes to find Paradise Falls for his Ellie.

It is a long and challenging trip, but with the help of a young boyscout called Russell and a dog called Dug, he finally finds Paradise Falls.

He puts the house exactly where Ellie had pictured it, but just as he has the house up and enjoys the views, he has to pack up the house again to fly to save his little boyscout friend and Kevin the bird. By saving them, the house gets destroyed and the old man is sad that he could not finish Ellies dream. Until he goes thru Ellie's book again and scrolls past the pages of her dream about Paradise Falls. The next pages in the book have captured a lot of memories of the great times they shared during their life together, including the many times they lie down, look at the sky and dream about how one day they would find Paradise Falls. At that moment he realizes that eventhough Ellie never made it to Paradise Falls, them talking about it, the dreams and memories about it in itself have given her a lot of happiness during her life and he finally he feels at peace.

What I learned from this is that you don't always have to achieve all your goals. Having dreams and thinking about them, planning them in itself is what create happiness. And in the end remember one thing: you are the only one that can create your happiness. Dont wait for it or for somebody else to make it happen for you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bon Jovi: Live at Soldier Field

Last month the wife of one of my colleagues died unexpected. Age 38. For a couple of years now, I have had a list in my mind of places I want to visit and things I want to do, but I never made a real bucket list. When I heard this sad news I decided that it was time to make my bucket list. I told myself that life is too short and I was going to try to do as much of the things on my list as I could and enjoy every day from now on.

It was actually a great exercise and a week or so later I had a first bucket list together. The list ranges from simple things like going on a hot air balloon trip, exotic travel destinations, to more challenging things like hiking Kilimanjaro. Also on that list is to have front row tickets to a Bon Jovi concert, one of my all time favorite bands. So when I saw the “LIVE BEFORE YOU DIE” contest on the website, right after my resolution to live life to the fullest, I thought this was too much of a coincidence and I decided that I had to take on this challenge and started writing my blog.

When I close my eyes I can picture the Chicago dream concert:

My friend Virginia is coming with me to the concert as she is also a big Bon Jovi fan. She and I were at the San Jose concert in February. We really regretted we didn’t have seats closer to the stage, so we promissed ourselves that one day we would be there, in the circle. On Saturday morning we fly to Chicago and after checking into the hotel in the afternoon, we start with getting manicures and pedicures, accompanied by a glass of bubbly to celebrate. After that it’s time to change and get ready for the concert. A limo takes us to Soldier Field. Our seats are PIT3, row 1. Virginia is a big Richie fan and he is always on that side of the stage, so she is totally excited. By the time we get to our seats we are both giddy with excitement and have to pinch each other to make sure this is real and we will see them in less then 45 minutes live, right in front of us.

The lights go out, the crowd starts to cheer and there they are……. Blood on Blood, followed by We Weren’t Born To Follow and Bad Name and the whole stadium is on their feet. When Jon has just the crowd sing the chorus of Bad Name, I have goose bumps on my arms.

We weren’t born to follow

It’s a warm summer night in Chicago, the air is hot and so is the music and the band. The first slower song is one of my favorites: Open All Night. We are so close that we can almost touch Jon and I am thinking that this is a dream come true. I sing along as I know all the words. Open All Night is followed by When We Were beautiful, another great song of the new album. Then they turn it up again with the next couple of songs. I love Captain Crash and always smile at "She wears a plastic crown like Cinderella and rollerskates in bed" and when Kid Rock joins for Bad Medicine, the place is rocking. Tonight's version of Bad Medicine is a mesh up with Old Time Rock and Roll and now the party is in full swing.

It’s time again for a couple of slower songs. The first time I heard Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah by Bon Jovi was in San Jose, but this time, being so close, it takes my breath away and almost makes me cry, it is such and amazing song and I think Jon’s version is the best ever.

Hallelujah, San Jose February 2010

Hallelujah is followed by 2 more classics, Always and I’ll Be There For You. I know that I will never forget this night as long as I live. Some of my all time favorite songs, played right there in front of me, this is such a special experience. Always was my first Bon Jovi song. I remember when the song first came out, back home in Holland, it went straight to number 1 in the charts. I loved it from the very first time I heard it on the radio and I immediately bought my first Bon Jovi album, Crossroads. I was hooked after that. After Always, Jon leaves the stage to Richie, who does an awesome version of I'll Be There For You.

It is hard to imagine it could get any better after this, but they turn it up a notch yet again with It’s My Life, Who Says You Can’t Go Home and Keep The Faith ending the night with In These Arms. Virginia and I smile at each other as we sing along with It’s my Life. Her 3 year old daughter recognizes it from my ring tone and every time she hears the song, she will sing along with it and after the song is over she will ask if we can play "life” again telling us she likes Jon Jovi. In These Arms is another song I absolutely love. Tonight is the normal version, my favorite is the acoustic version.

By now I almost have no voice left, but its ok, my voice will come back, a night like this probably won’t. And the night is not over yet, there is more: they come back for 2 encores: Wanted and of course Livin’ on a Prayer, the old time classic.

Wanted and Livin' On a Prayer

This is bitter sweet. I know when I hear the first notes of Livin' On a Prayer that this will be the end. Without it, the night wouldn’t be complete, but I am sad that this wonderful night is coming to an end.

Thank you, good night!

No, thank you Bon Jovi. You and your music have been my inspiration thru the years: you were there thru the good times and the bad, the laughter and the tears.

To top of the night we have backstage passes so we will be able to meet the guys that have created all these wonderful songs, maybe we will even get their autographs. Although I listen to their music all the time, after a night like this I dont think there will be any other way to get the real Bon Jovi experience, then to see them in concert, up close and personal.

I don’t expect to win the tickets, but just in case, after I finished this blog, I already booked 2 tickets from SFO to Chicago with my United miles. Just in case my bucket list wish will come thru......

My Chicago dream set list:


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