You don’t thrown down a goal like acquiring a secret agent’s skills after 40 without due consideration. Fortunately, like any aspiring agent, I have a secret weapon. I love lists.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you might think, “hey, I love lists too.” And you’d be wrong. You probably like lists. I love them – it’s an important distinction. I make lists at work, I make them at home. I have lists for different categories of travel. I wrote my wedding vows in list form. I’ve even been known to write down items after completing them – only to immediately cross them off. It’s the list crossing that is key; it creates a virtuous cycle. The more I list, the more I complete. The greater the velocity, the greater the gratification. At this point you might be thinking that I have a potentially unhealthy relationship with lists. And you’d be right.
So, what’s the secret agent list? It’s a fluid list of competencies, activities, travel destinations, and milestones. As an aspiring writer the list also does double-duty in providing a steady supply of material. Right now the list breaks down into five important categories including: transportation, cultural & social intelligence, combat, exotic locales, and “don’t tell mom.” And while not a category in its own right – we have mash-ups.
A word on each….
It doesn’t sound sexy. To be clear, I’m not talking about mass transit. 007 is well known for lust-worthy vehicles. From the vintage Aston Martin DB5 to the more recent Vanquish, Commander Bond has never been short on worthy wheels. And they haven’t always been four of them or any frankly; motorcycles, submarines, jets, and even a space shuttle have graced the now 23 films* and counting. And while I don’t envision myself at the helm of a jet fighter any time soon there’s lots of ground to cover in how I operate behind the wheel. Also, I’ve never even ridden a motorcycle, nor have I jumped out of an airplane (see ‘Don’t tell mom’).
Cultural & Social Intelligence
It’s a bit of a mouthful and purposefully vague, but one of the things I’ve always admired about Bond is his versatility. From the baccarat table and M’s briefing room to an evil lair or the cliffs of a Greek Monastery, James is never out place, nor out of his league. This doesn’t come without a lot of homework and exposure to different situations. And, creatively speaking, it gives me tons of latitude. I don’t envision picking up Chinese or Russian any time soon, but I have always wanted a firmer command of French. And German. Also, I have no idea how to play Baccarat.
Let me preface this by saying I haven’t been in a fist fight with anyone since my brother in my junior year of high school. And I don’t have any desire to do so. That said, I do enjoy sparring and kick boxing. I started Tae Kwon Do in college and studied it for 3 years earning a purple belt (if memory serves). Tae Kwon Do isn’t the most practical of arts (lots of high kicking and tournament fighting) so I switched to Kenpo Karate which favors rapid hand striking.
I loved Kenpo, but I didn’t like driving to Bellevue and stopped after earning my green belt. I regret that decision to this day. I’m keen to get started again, but need to find the right school. Combat isn’t solely hand-to-hand of course. I fired a handgun once about 20 years ago at a range with some high school friends. I haven’t picked up a gun since. That will have to change.
My love for travel began my junior year of college when I, appropriately enough, studied abroad in England. My parents called this trip the “Euro-scam.” Not only did they have to pay for my schooling now they could add travel expenses on top of it. While I did my part to contribute through savings and good grades, I will always be in their debt. After my studies concluded I did the backpack / Eurail thing for a good three months and had the time of my life. Since then I’ve made an effort to see a good portion of the globe from Bali to Budapest, but there’s so much left to see. Luckily for me I’ll need to hit the road to complete this mission and there are dozens of ports to call on.
Don’t tell mom
I imagine about a good third of the items on the list will be those that I probably shouldn’t disclose to my mother. If I were to categorize the maternal reaction to any of my planned activities I imagine it will run the gamut from encouraging (learning French), to envious (Baccarat in Monte Carlo), and bewildered (biathlon training), to downright disapproving (skydiving, getting a concealed carry permit). Those are just a few examples. Fortunately, as mothers go, mine ranks in the top percentile for adventurousness and creativity. Also, she’s my editor.
If you’ve watched Glee you know what a mash-up is. Any achievement or experience that ticks two items off the list gets the mash-up designation. Fuse three categories in one afternoon and that’s a triple mash-up. Examples are helpful. If I were to say, undergo some form of Biathlon training (that’s ski and shoot as seen in the Olympics and For Your Eyes Only) that would be a transit and combat mash-up.
So that’s it really. There are a few noteworthy omissions; like killing people, substance abuse, and womanizing. One can only go so far. The specific items in each group? That’s a work in progress and part of my research plan which I’ll touch on in my next post.
(* not counting Never Say Never again which was produced by a separate studio.)