Sebastian Terry – What’s On Your List?
Sadly, it took a tragic event in Sebastian Terry’s world for him to realize how precious life is for everyone. In this rousing speech, he tells of the amazing journey he has had crossing off his bucket list.
One of my close friends, a guy called Chris, who I’d grown up with had very suddenly and very tragically passed away overnight.
And that moment made me ponder a lot of questions immediately. Why am I here? What am I doing? Whatever it is I am doing, am I doing it well? But the one thing that stuck in my head was simply this notion. If Chris knew that he only had 24 years on Earth would he have lived the same way if given another chance? Would he have changed anything? Was he happy?
And I never got to ask that question to him but the more I thought about it, he lived on the beaches, he loved his family, he loved his mates, he loved having a beer, he loved being a big kid. Rightly or wrongly by anyone else’s code Chris was living a life that reflected his values. He wouldn’t have changed a thing.
I then asked myself that same question at 24 in Canada. Looking back at my life, could I honestly say that I was living a life that I was happy with? Or would I change everything?
And instantly, with consideration, I realized that I would change everything and I began jotting down everything that I thought might make me smile ’cause I saw it I wasn’t happy.
One thing turned into 10, to 50, to 100 things and as I looked at this bit of paper I became extremely emotional and I decided then and there to drop everything in my life to pursue my list.
You’re gonna judge me and that’s fine but I flew straight to Las Vegas because I’ve always wanted to marry a stranger there. Now it’s, it’s legal, so how can that be wrong? Long story short, I met a stripper called Crystal mud wrestling and I proposed to her. She said yes so I found a chapel, quite romantic, an Elvis impersonator, stretched hama, you know. All these people, I didn’t know them, they just turned up. They thought it was funny. The only person who didn’t turn up was, of course, Crystal which left me with a problem, so I decided to create an opportunity and I looked down at the crowd and I said is there anyone else here who’d consider marrying me and it turns out there was. Her name was Chevelli, she was my receptionist at the hotel.
So Elvis was fantastic, we had a very awkward moment when he asked us to kiss ’cause it was the first and the last time that we ever touched. And I only say that because I know what you’re wondering. And the answers no, so.
Beneath this was something far more important. This was the first time that I’d identified a goal for myself by myself, for me. And I went through the process of getting there and I achieved it and immediately I felt empowered. I felt in control of my life.
And I was smiling, genuinely. And I thought, why stop? So I just haven’t. I’ve been going for seven years, I don’t do anything else. The question I was asking myself, what’s on your list started to get heard and it resonated with people around the world and suddenly, not through asking, people would send me their lists. Thank you for doing what your doing, you’ve inspired me to consider my dreams. Thank you for doing what you’re doing. These are the things that I’ve now done. Seven years into this journey lives have changed. This is no longer about one man and a list. This is about a community and living and being and reveling in who we are so that we can be who we are.
And my life changed when I met this guy here called Mark. He saw me on TV, emailed me and said I want to do a half marathon. But when I got to know Mark, we are very different. He’s a quadraplegic. At the age of 32, completely able bodied, went to Greece backpacking, got bitten by a tick, contracted Lyme disease, quadriplegic, can’t talk, can’t move and I looked at him and I said okay how? And he simply said push me, which is funny. But it’s also quite deep. I’d never wanted to run that distance in my life. I think it’s disgusting but at that moment it was the most important thing to me and so I signed us up for the Melbourne Half Marathon and this happened a few weeks later.
Helping someone was the greatest thing I’ve ever done and I haven’t stopped since. In fact I’m approached by people all around the world now who need help with various things and I can’t stop. So I do, I travel the world helping people.
This is about something deeper I’ve discovered. This is about finding your passion and through that finding purpose. This is about growing in every day in every way. And I think it’s that connection with each other of course, but I think, firstly with yourself. And this is my story.
Why did it take a loss in my life for me to consider something good? And why do we hear that story all the time? Someone is diagnosed with an illness that’s called a cancer. Someone’s involved in a car crash and if they’re lucky enough to survive, they’re the ones that jump out of bed and climb a mountain or write a book or propose to a loved one or start a company or learn how to play ukulele.
Why should it take a dark moment to consider a light moment? And I don’t think it should.
And when you have that goal, that meaningful goal. It could be something personal, could be something professional. It could be within the community, could be something real different. It’s a relative concept, it’s beautiful. We’re all so different. Could be something that scares you or challenges you. Could be financial, experiential, it doesn’t matter. It could be all of these things.
The only thing of importance is that you know what it is for you. It’s just a choice to pursue it. Life is about choices. You choose to be here, you choose not to be here. Because at the end of the day we are entirely accountable for what we do. We’re not bystanders, we’re in the driving seat. And if this is right, the question, therefore, becomes what’s on your list?