The Man Who Won’t Fit In

The Bucket list of John Goddard

There’s a race of men who don’t fit in, a race that can’t sit still.”

“So they break the hearts of kith and kin, and roam the world at will.”

“They range the field and they rove the flood, and climb the mountains crest.”

Theirs is the curse of the Gypsy blood, and they don’t know how to rest.

Robert Service 1911 “Song of the Yukon”

I used to live by those words.

When I was growing up, I read constantly.

History, Philosophy, Science, Literature, I read anything that I could lay my hands on. Especially stories about travel and adventure. Tales about the Yukon Territory by Jack London and Robert Service. True stories of survival and polar exploration by Roald Amunson and Shackleton, Franklin, Nansen, Cook and Peary.

I devoured them all.

In 1939 and at the age of fifteen, John Goddard put together a list of 127 things that he wanted to accomplish in life. It’s a list of mountains that he wanted to climb, river systems that he wanted to explore, primitive cultures that he wanted to study and goals that he wanted to reach. It was not unusual for an imaginative kid to make such a list. The odd part was that he then set out to do them.

I came across the list in an article in Life magazine in 1972. I was fourteen at the time and had been having similar dreams about my own future, so the timing was perfect. It was the first time that I had seen a bucket list. I started making one of my own that same day. If John Goddard could visit far off lands and explore the unknown then so could I.


My list unfortunately, is lost to history, but Goddard’s remains.

Here it is with an X marking goals reached:

John Goddard’s “Life List”


No. Achieved. Goals. Comments

1. X. Nile River

2. X. Amazon River

3. X. Congo River

4. X. Colorado River

5. Yangtze River, China

6. Niger River

7. Orinoco River, Venezuela

8. X. Rio Coco, Nicaragua


9. X. The Congo

10. X. New Guinea

11. X. Brazil

12. X. Borneo

13. X. The Sudan

14. X. Australia

15. X. Kenya

16. X. The Philippines

17. X. Tanzania

18. X. Ethiopia

19. X. Nigeria

20. X. Alaska


21. Mt. Everest

22. Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina

23. Mt. McKinley

24. X. Mt. Huascaran, Peru

25. X. Mt. Kilimanjaro

26. X. Mt. Ararat, Turkey

27. X. Mt. Kenya

28. Mt. Cook, New Zealand

29. X. Mt. Popocatepetl, Mexico

30. X. The Matterhorn

31. X. Mt. Rainier

32. X. Mt. Fuji

33. X. Mt. Vesuvius

34. X. Mt. Bromo, Java

35. X. Grand Tetons

36. X. Mt. Baldy, California

37. Carry out careers in medicine and exploration. (studied premed, treats illnesses among primitive tribes)

38. Visit every country in the world. (30 to go)

39. X. Study Navaho and Hopi Indians

40. X. Learn to fly a plane

41. X. Ride horse in Rose Parade


42. X. Iguacu Falls, Brazil

43. X. Victoria Falls, Rhodesia. (Chased by a warthog in the process)

44. X. Sutherland Falls, New Zealand

45. X. Yosemite Falls

46. X. Niagara Falls

47. X. Retrace travels of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great


48. X. Coral reefs of Florida

49. X. Great Barrier Reef, Australia. (photographed a 300-pound clam)

50. X. Red Sea

51. X. Fiji Islands

52. X. The Bahamas

53. X. Explore Okefenokee Swamp and the Everglades


54. North and South Poles

55. X. Great Wall of China

56. X. Panama and Suez Canals

57. X. Easter Island

58. X. The Galapagos Islands

59. X. Vatican City

60. X. The Taj Mahal

61. X. The Eiffel Tower

62. X. The Blue Grotto

63. X. The Tower of London

64. X. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

65. X. The Sacred Well of Chichen-Itza, Mexico

66. X. Climb Ayers Rock in Australia

67. Follow River Jordan from Sea of Galilee to Dead Sea


68. X. Lake Victoria

69. X. Lake Superior

70. X. Lake Tanganyika

71. X. Lake Titicaca, S. America

72. X. Lake Nicaragua


73. X. Become an Eagle Scout

74. X. Dive in a submarine

75. X. Land on and take off from an aircraft carrier

76. X. Fly in a blimp, balloon and glider

77. X. Ride an elephant, camel, ostrich and bronco

78. X. Skin dive to 40 feet and hold breath two and a half minutes underwater

79. X. Catch a ten-pound lobster and a ten-inch abalone

80. X. Play flute and violin

81. X. Type 50 words a minute

82. X. Make a parachute jump

83. X. Learn water and snow skiing

84. X. Go on a church mission

85. X. Follow the John Muir trail

86. X. Study native medicines and bring back useful ones

87. X. Bag camera trophies of elephant, lion, rhino, cheetah, cape buffalo and whale

88. X. Learn to fence

89. X. Learn jujitsu

90. X. Teach a college course

91. X. Watch a cremation ceremony in Bali

92. X. Explore depths of the sea

93. Appear in a Tarzan movie

94. Own a horse, chimpanzee, cheetah, ocelot, and coyote. (yet to own a. chimp or cheetah)

95. Become a ham radio operator

96. X. Build own telescope

97. X. Write a book. (About his Nile trip)

98. X. Publish an article in National Geographic Magazine

99. X. High jump five feet

100. X. Broad jump 15 feet

101. X. Run mile in five minutes

102. X. Weigh 175 pounds stripped. (he still does)

103. X. Perform 200 sit-ups and 20 pull-ups

104. X. Learn French, Spanish and Arabic

105. Study dragon lizards on Komodo Island. (Boat broke down within 20 miles of island)

106. X. Visit birthplace of Grandfather Sorenson in Denmark

107. X. Visit birthplace of Grandfather Goddard in England

108. X. Ship aboard a freighter as a seaman

109. Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. (Has read extensive parts in each volume)

110. X. Read the Bible from cover to cover

111. X. Read the works of Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Dickens, Thoreau, Rousseau, Conrad, Hemingway, Twain, Burroughs, Talmage, Tolstoi, Longfellow, Keats, Poe, Bacon, Whittier, and Emerson. (not every work of each)

112. X. Become familiar with the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Ibert, Mendelssohn, Lalo, Liszt, Rimski-Korsakov, Respighi, Rachmaninoff, Paganini, Stravinsky, Toch, Tschaikosvsky, Verdi

113. X. Become proficient in the use of a plane, motorcycle, tractor, surfboard, rifle, pistol, canoe, microscope, football, basketball, bow and arrow, lariat and boomerang

114. X. Compose music

115. X. Play Clair de Lune on the piano

116. X. Watch fire-walking ceremony. (In Bali and Surinam)

117. X. Milk a poisonous snake. (bitten by diamondback during photo session)

118. X. Light a match with .22 rifle

119. X. Visit a movie studio

120. X. Climb Cheops’ pyramid

121. X. Become a member of the Explorer’s Club and the Adventure’s Club

122. X. Learn to play polo

123. X. Travel through the Grand Canyon on foot and by boat

124. X. Circumnavigate the globe. (four times)

125. Visit the moon. (“Someday, if God wills”)

126. X. Marry and have children. (has six children)

127. X. Live to see the 21st century

Now. I don’t know if the right path is to make a list and spend one’s life crossing things off, like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep.

Nor do I believe that life is so pointless that it can be wasted.

I think that life should be filled with experiences that enrich, and hopefully enrich the lives of others.

Mr. Goddard wrote two books and traveled the world showing films of his adventures and giving. lectures on the importance of setting goals.

Though I never met the man, he was an inspiration to me, and his message help to shape my life.

Goddard was eighty-eight years old when he passed away on May 17th 2013.

He had accomplished 109 of the 127 goals on his list.

“He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone”.

He’s a man who won’t fit in”.