William Ross once said, “Every man dies — but not every man really lives.”

There is a whole lot of truth to that.

You may have no idea who Ross is. He’s not some intellect depicted on “The Big-Bang Theory” or fortune-cookie-writing Confucius type. He’s an American music composer who also happens to have a lot of common sense.

But what does it take to “really live?”

It’s possible the answer is easier than most people think. The answer might be to worry less about HAVING things and look for more opportunities to DO things.

Very few materialistic people are truly happy. That’s usually because they can never have enough, despite what they already have — be it money, cars, houses, boats, four-wheelers, whatever.

The truly happy people in life seem to be those who want the experiences over the stuff.

They say — and “they” being so-called experts on such things — that the best way to start really living is to put together a bucket list of things to do before you die.

My family would say that’s morbid thinking. I say it’s smart.

Creating a good bucket list is really important, no matter how old you are. Why?

Another quote that recently stuck out for me — though this one has an unknown author — claims, “the only people who fear death are the ones with regrets.”

Once again, that makes sense.

So it seems worthwhile to stop and really think about such things as:

— What would you wish you could do before you die?

Have a bucket list? You should

— What have you always wanted to do but have not done yet?

— What are your biggest goals and dreams?

— What do you want to see in person?

— What experiences do you want to have/feel?

— What would you like to say/do together with other people? People you love? Family? Friends?

— Are there any specific people you want to meet in person?

— Who would you most like to share a meal with?

There are probably many other questions you can ask yourself. Some may not have an answer yet, but it’s important to contemplate.

My bucket list was actually put together several years ago. It was just a simple list of 10 things I wanted to do — and now, there are only three things left: travel to Australia, take a long train ride and learn how to speak Spanish.

Returning to the Bladen Journal was the most recent item I checked off the list.

It’s possible, however, that I would be able to create an entirely new bucket list, anchored by those three things. But that’s OK … a bucket list should always be fluid. No sense getting into a rut, especially with things you hope to do most.

If I were to add to my bucket list now, it’d be to one day own a 1969 Chevelle (or at least drive one), take a cruise, see the Northern Lights and drive the entire length of both Interstate 95 and Route 66.

Sure, there may be a few things that seem unreachable. That’s OK. Casey Kasem always said, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Yet another wise saying.

So take some time to really think about the experiences that are important to you now. Write them down and start finding ways to check them off. Some may take a while. A long while. But don’t give up — it’ll be worth it.

And also don’t hesitate to adjust the list or add to it.

While you are at it, consider one final quote, this one from Mark Twain: “We regret the things we don’t do more than the things we do.”

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or cvincent@bladenjournal.com.