John Goddard, who died on May 17 at age 88 in Glendale, Calif., was a swashbuckling, globe-trotting adventurer of such renown that Dos Equis could have used him instead of an actor in its “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials and not had to exaggerate his achievements. He was the sort of man that Indiana Jones, had he actually existed outside the movies, would have looked up to. Dale Carnegie would have turned to him for inspirational advice. We could go on, but you catch our drift.
As a boy growing up in Los Angeles (right), Goddard, hearing adults lament that they’d never achieved their dreams in life, resolved not to suffer that fate. At age 15, he sat in his bedroom and wrote what may be the ultimate bucket list: 127 milestones that he aimed to achieve in his lifetime. Some were merely challenging – learning to type 50 words per minute, playing “Clair de Lune” on the piano, becoming proficient in the use of a boomerang, and broad-jumping 15 feet. But others required him to travel to exotic places, ranging from the Great Wall of China to the wilds of the Amazon, and just about everywhere in between. He aimed to retrace the journeys of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great, ride an ostrich, land on and take off from an aircraft carrier, and climb both the Matterhorn and Cheops’ pyramid. In the end, according to his website, he achieved at least 111 of his 127 goals.
In case you want to try out-achieving Goddard, here are 10 of the items on his list that he didn’t get around to achieving:
- Appear in a Tarzan movie.
- Climb Mount Everest.
- Explore the Orinoco River in Venezuela.
- Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. (Goddard claimed to have made it through “extensive parts in each volume.”)
- Own a cheetah.
- Follow the River Jordan from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.
- Become a ham radio operator.
- Travel to the North and South poles.
- Study dragon lizards on Komodo Island (Goddard’s boat broke down within 20 miles of the island, or he would have made it.).
- Visit the Moon.
Here’s a piece that Dateline NBC did on Goddard a while back:
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