In the 2007 movie, The Bucket List, the main characters, played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, meet when they are both in the hospital and are diagnosed with terminal cancer. Together they compile a “bucket list” of things to do before they die; a list of things to be accomplished before they “kick the bucket.”
I, like many people who reach their 60’s, occasionally contemplate the fact I will not live forever. It isn’t something healthy to dwell on or fear, but just to be cognizant of the fact we are on the downward slope of living. Today, after that 2007 movie, the term Bucket List has become part of our language.
As you get older, friends and family begin to pass away at a progressive frequency, confirming that time is limited and fleeting.
So, in today’s culture, a bucket list is becoming increasingly popular.
I DON’T HAVE A BUCKET LIST
The problem with a bucket list is that it is a “To Do” list. A To Do list morphs into a task unto itself – that is, just completing the list becomes the goal, without regard to the importance or quality of each individual item on the list. We lose focus.
The best method is to do important things starting today and to continue doing them for the rest of your life. You don’t need a list, these things will just pop into your head begging attention. Most people just discard these thoughts and forget them. I take them seriously. If you take them seriously too, for their specific significance and act on them, by the time you are 50 or 60, there will be no need for a bucket list. You will have developed a habit of doing great things.
One thing of critical importance is that you do these things for yourself. Not to impress others.
While contemplating the terminal diagnosis of a friend, another friend commented it was time to work on his bucket list. Luckily, I have been working on my bucket list for most of my life, but it wasn’t a list, and it surely wasn’t a bucket list. It is just my life. Reflecting on my life, I have:
- Married and loved a beautiful woman.
- Observed the universe through my telescope.
- Observed ants and insects up close through binoculars.
- Inhaled the ocean breeze early on summer mornings.
- Sniffed the fragance of plants and flowers.
- Smelled the desert after a rain.
- Climbed high mountains where I have enjoyed the sunset; slept and then enjoyed the sunrise.
- Traveled through mountains on skis.
- Trudged through mountains on snowshoes.
- Slept on cold winter nights with only the crystal clear sky as my roof.
- Spent days comfortably confined in a tent while winter howled outside.
- Skated across frozen lakes.
- Hiked the lowest deserts.
- Backpacked for 6 continuous months (twice).
- Rode a motorcycle coast-to-coast and back again.
- Descended the Grand and lesser canyons, slipped through narrow slot canyons marveling at the slick multi-layered and multi-colored rocks whose surfaces have been smoothed by eons of wind and water, and slide down rock pour-overs.
- Observed in the wild: bears, deer, elk, antelope, mountain lions, and big horn sheep.
- Watched snakes and tortoises slowly move across sand.
- Seen billions of stars.
- Seen billions of flowers.
- Seen millions of butterflies.
- Watch birds of prey catch food.
- Listened to the cooing and hooting of doves and owls.
- Appreciated every sunset and every sunrise.
- Walked among giant redwoods and sequoia.
- Rafted on whitewater rivers and paddled on glassy alpine lakes in a canoe.
- Traveled the sea in large luxury ships and on sailboats.
- Surfed the ocean in the perpetual search for the perfect wave.
- Watched ocean fish and other life while snorkeling.
- Played with stingrays in the ocean.
- Laid on white-sand beaches.
- Spent hours doing nothing but working on my sun tan.
- Shot through the high altitude sky at supersonic speed, drifted silently through the sky in a hot air balloon, slipped through the air in a sailplane.
- Jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.
- Enjoyed man’s creative technology at the top of the Empire State Building, walked inside Hoover Dam, watched some of world’s largest ships move through the Soo Locks, and dozens upon dozens of amazing achievements.
- Played with puppies and kittens.
- Caught (and consumed) mountain trout.
- Enjoyed chocolate, ice cream, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fine wines.
- Read the works of many of the greatest thinkers of the western world in such areas as philosophy, religion, ethics, fiction, poetry, history, science, plays, and economics.
- Listened to the music of Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, The Beatles, and more.
- Watched great plays and movies.
- Walked through numerous museums to learn more of the great painters and sculptors.
- Eaten wild berries and other goodies growing in the wilderness.
- Helped deliver both my children.
- Watched my children grow up to be outstanding persons.
- Played with my grandson.
There are many, many more.
It is paramount not to dwell on what one has done, it is best to concentrate on doing what you like. My list isn’t done. I will keep adding to it, but there is no list with checkboxes.