Goddard’s List


Back to school.

Kids are starting a new year.  New friends.  New classes.  New knowledge.

It may make you think about new starts as well.  As you consider your second “new year”, consider the following as inspiration about a very humble starting point that led to great achievement.

“One rainy afternoon an inspired 15-year old boy named John Goddard sat down at his kitchen table in Los Angeles and wrote three words at the top of a yellow pad, “My Life List.” Under that heading he wrote down 127 goals. Since then he has completed 108 of those goals. These were not simple or easy goals. They included climbing the world’s major mountains, exploring from source to mouth the longest rivers of the world, piloting the world’s fastest aircraft, running a mile in five minutes and reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.”

# Achieved Goals Comments
1 Nile River
2 Amazon River
3 Congo River
4 Colorado River
5 Yangtze River, China
6 Niger River
7 Orinoco River, Venezuela
8 Rio Coco, Nicaragua

9 The Congo
10 New Guinea
11 Brazil
12 Borneo
13 The Sudan
14 Australia
15 Kenya
16 The Philippines
17 Tanzania
18 Ethiopia
19 Nigeria
20 Alaska

21 Mt. Everest
22 Mt. Aconcagua, Argentina
23 Mt. McKinley
24 Mt. Huascaran, Peru
25 Mt. Kilimanjaro
26 Mt. Ararat, Turkey
27 Mt. Kenya
28 Mt. Cook, New Zealand
29 Mt. Popocatepetl, Mexico
30 The Matterhorn
31 Mt. Rainier
32 Mt. Fuji
33 Mt. Vesuvius
34 Mt. Bromo, Java
35 Grand Tetons
36 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 Study Navaho and Hopi Indians
40 Learn to fly a plane
41 Ride horse in Rose Parade

42 Iguacu Falls, Brazil
43 Victoria Falls, Rhodesia (Chased by a warthog in the process)
44 Sutherland Falls, New Zealand
45 Yosemite Falls
46 Niagara Falls
47 Retrace travels of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great

48 Coral reefs of Florida
49 Great Barrier Reef, Australia (photographed a 300-pound clam)
50 Red Sea
51 Fiji Islands
52 The Bahamas
53 Explore Okefenokee Swamp and the Everglades

54 North and South Poles
55 Great Wall of China
56 Panama and Suez Canals
57 Easter Island
58 The Galapagos Islands
59 Vatican City
60 The Taj Mahal                                                                                                              61 The Eiffel Tower
62 The Blue Grotto
63 The Tower of London
64 The Leaning Tower of Pisa
65 The Sacred Well of Chichen-Itza, Mexico
66 Climb Ayers Rock in Australia
67 Follow River Jordan from Sea of Galilee to Dead Sea

68 Lake Victoria
69 Lake Superior
70 Lake Tanganyika
71 Lake Titicaca, S. America
72 Lake Nicaragua

73 Become an Eagle Scout
74 Dive in a submarine
75 Land on and take off from an aircraft carrier
76 Fly in a blimp, balloon and glider
77 Ride an elephant, camel, ostrich and bronco
78 Skin dive to 40 feet and hold breath two and a half minutes underwater
79 Catch a ten-pound lobster and a ten-inch abalone
80 Play flute and violin
81 Type 50 words a minute
82 Make a parachute jump
83 Learn water and snow skiing
84 Go on a church mission
85 Follow the John Muir trail
86 Study native medicines and bring back useful ones
87 Bag camera trophies of elephant, lion, rhino, cheetah, cape buffalo and whale
88 Learn to fence
89 Learn jujitsu
90 Teach a college course
91 Watch a cremation ceremony in Bali
92 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 Build own telescope
97 Write a book (About his Nile trip)
98 Publish an article in National Geographic Magazine
99 High jump five feet
100 Broad jump 15 feet
101 Run mile in five minutes
102 Weigh 175 pounds stripped (he still does)
103 Perform 200 sit-ups and 20 pull-ups
104 Learn French, Spanish and Arabic
105 Study dragon lizards on Komodo Island (Boat broke down within 20 miles of island)
106 Visit birthplace of Grandfather Sorenson in Denmark
107 Visit birthplace of Grandfather Goddard in England
108 Ship aboard a freighter as a seaman
109 Read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (Has read extensive parts in each volume)
110 Read the Bible from cover to cover
111 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 Become familiar with the compositions of Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, Ibert, Mendelssohn, Lalo, Liszt, Rimski-Korsakov, Respighi, Rachmaninoff, Paganini, Stravinsky, Toch, Tschaikosvsky, Verdi
113 Become proficient in the use of a plane, motorcycle, tractor, surfboard, rifle, pistol, canoe, microscope, football, basketball, bow and arrow, lariat and boomerang
114 Compose music
115 Play Clair de Lune on the piano
116 Watch fire-walking ceremony (In Bali and Surinam)
117 Milk a poisonous snake (bitten by diamondback during photo session)
118 Light a match with .22 rifle
119 Visit a movie studio                                                                                               120 Climb Cheops’ pyramid
121 Become a member of the Explorer’s Club and the Adventure’s Club
122 Learn to play polo
123 Travel through the Grand Canyon on foot and by boat
124 Circumnavigate the globe (four times)
125 Visit the moon (“Someday, if God wills”)
126 Marry and have children (has five children)
127 Live to see the 21st century heops’ pyramid
121 Become a member of the Explorer’s Club and the Adventure’s Club
122 Learn to play polo                                                                                                  123 Travel through the Grand Canyon on foot and by boat
124 Circumnavigate the globe (four times)
125 Visit the moon (“Someday, if God wills”)
126 Marry and have children (has six children)
127 Live to see the 21st century

A graduate of the University of Southern California where he majored in anthropology and psychology, Goddard has studied obscure cultures in all parts of the globe. A resident of La Canada, California, where he lives with his wife and two of his five children, Goddard does not believe in pursuing adventure for the sake of frivolous thrills, but used these experiences to achieve a worthwhile end.

This end, for him, is scientific exploration, adding to the world’s store of knowledge. “Digging out the facts is the real challenge,” Goddard says in summing up his career. “The adventure is exciting and enjoyable–but secondary.

Reprinted from National Geographic Magazine, 1992

John Goddard passed away May 17, 2014. He was 88 years old.


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