By the Buried Life (Jonnie Penn, Dave Lingwood, Duncan Penn, and Ben Mentin)
When my middle-aged friend gave middle-aged me a copy of What Do You Want To Do Before You Die? I thought, “this is a bunch of boys running around on road trips. It sounds like fun, but I don’t have time for road trips.”
That’s true, but once I began to read I knew they had something. Maybe I need a road trip, or at the very least that summer in Turkey I’ve always wanted. After all, I only get one life. And that’s what the book is about. Whatever it is you want, from reconciling with your father to jumping out of an airplane, how will you do it? How will you find your way out of the average life, chase a crazy dream, get rid of old fears, forgive?
When four young men in Victoria, B.C., Canada began to feel their lives stagnating, they realized if they wanted change, it was up to them to make it happen. Calling themselves and their project “The Buried Life,” they created a list of one hundred things they wanted to do in life, bought an old bus and fixed it up, then set about crossing items off their list. Early in the journey they added something: for every item crossed off their own lists, they helped a stranger cross a wish off theirs.
The boys had some crazy stuff in mind, like “streak a ball game” and “crash the Playboy Mansion” (both have already been crossed off), but helping others is what made the project take off. It took the boys a year and a half to cross off “shoot hoops with President Obama,” and the President has said he decided to play along because of the charitable mission of these young men.
“WDYWTDBYD” became a series of documentaries on Netflix, and the guys continue to tour the US and Canada doing motivational appearances.
The book takes the wishes of all sorts of people and records them into a simple book with more art than text. The wishes are accompanied by pictures by several different artists. Some of the work is whimsical: “Before I die I want to crack a smile on one of those British guards.” Some is more serious: “I want to be able to help my overweight dad to be healthy again so that he’ll live to be my first dance at my wedding.” Some is odd: “I want to get struck by lightning and live.” And some is very sad: “I want my dad to be on the other side of the bars without the orange jumpsuit.” On facing pages you’ll find the expected (“I want to fall in love”) across from the unexpected (“Before I die I would like to help find a missing person”).
Each entry is short, just a phrase on a page, along with a few brief chapters distributed throughout to tell the story of the project and the adventures of our heroes. I found it all to be inspiring reading, and of course I’ve been working on my list.
“Write a bestselling book” is #19 on the list of wishes made by The Buried Life. It wasn’t crossed off in my edition. Surely it is now.
Petrea Burchard is a Pasadena photographer, blogger, actress, voice-over talent and author. She contributes book reviews to Hometown Pasadena, for which we and our readers are very grateful. Find more Petrea doings, writings, and photography at PetreaBurchard.com and LivingVicuriously.
Camelot & Vine can be bought locally at Vroman’s, the Pasadena Museum of History, Webster’s Fine Stationers in Altadena and the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeeshop. The ebook version is available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Diesel, Smashwords, and the Sony eReader.
More pics of The Buried Life: