Last night I had the privilege of going to a minor league hockey game. Some friends hooked us up with awesome tickets, complete with pre-game tour of the locker room & players bench.

During the tour, we learned that a few games ago, one of the visiting players had taken a cheap shot at one of our players, inflicting enough damage for a concussion and 18 stitches. That player, #27, served a one-game suspension, but had yet to face the worst punishment. Retribution.

I don’t know a lot about the nuances of hockey, but even I knew that payback was eminent. It was widely expected that #27 for the visiting team would get his clock cleaned in the final moments of the game.

With 3 minutes left, #27 sat on the bench. We all joked about how he wouldn’t dare come back in for fear of getting what he deserved. The winner was all but decided & the other players had shown no lack of a willingness to fight.

And then, with a minute & a half left in the game, #27 reappeared in the rink during a face-off. I imagined that he was going to do what I would have done in his situation. Run. Or in this case, skate, as far away from any and all white jerseys who would surely be gunning for him.

I was wrong.

Before the puck even hit the ice he had his gloves off, wailing on an unsuspecting opponent. He didn’t wait to take what was coming to him. He didn’t try to apologize or argue. He knew a fight was inevitable, so he went out & started it.

As the refs escorted him off the rink, he was grinning, knowing that by throwing the first punch, he avoided a potentially much worse fate.

I opened up my bucket list today and began thinking about what 2011 might bring.

A whole new year.

365 days of possibilities.

2011 may be the year I become a successful entrepreneur. Or World traveler. Or ocean-going sailor. Or maybe just a complete failure.

I’m fairly certain that 2011 will bring a whole new slew of challenges I’ve yet to even consider and probably even a few punches in the face.

But I’m going to take a lesson from #27 and throw the first blow. In a much more literal sense, anyway.

Today I’m going to add 18 new items to my bucket list, expanding upon the dreams, goals & expectations I have for my future.

Yes, I know I only checked 3 things off my list last year. Yes, I know a few of them seem completely crazy (#63: Own less than 100 things) or out of character for me (#55: Watch the sunrise every day for a week). And yes, I know that my list no longer contains an even list of 50 items.

But as my mom & sisters demonstrated to me this week, sometimes you have to jump out of your box with reckless abandon & do something a little crazy.

So, here’s to 2011; a new year with limitless possibilities.

And also to throwing the first punch.

You may view my bucket list here.