I am a person who writes lists. All the time. I write lists about lists; to-do lists, done lists. You name it, I have a list for it. The only one I haven’t compiled (let alone completed) is a Bucket List. When there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, days in the week etc for my own (very humble) lists, the Bucket variety seems a tad ambitious.
I equate writing a Bucket List with the unfortunate people who have been given a less-than optimistic prognosis health-wise; in that scenario I can quite understand a sudden desire to get all those things done that we keep meaning to do. Whether it’s *cliche alert* swimming with dolphins,climbing a mountain – or even hitching a ride on the back of a pickup truck in Nashville (No? Just me then). For those who are given the worst news anyone would ever want to hear, it’s perfectly understandable to realize that Time can be your enemy. However, I suspect very few terminally ill people do actually rush out and complete their ‘Bucket List’. For a start, they are ill, time-deprived and probably mainly wanting to spend precious time with their loved ones.
The phrase ‘kicking the bucket’ is a light-hearted referral to dying – derived from the ‘good’ old days when some poor souls were hanged for their misdemeanours(“stand some poor old soul on bucket, tie noose around said persons neck, kick the bucket”). Not such a light-hearted phrase when you discover it’s grisly origins, is it? Therefore, a Bucket List is inextricably linked to death.
That’s why I don’t like Bucket Lists. Life is for the living, so the saying goes. I get that….what’s the point of setting yourself tasks that you might just regret not doing if you were ever in the position of knowing that you weren’t going to be around for much longer? The more outrageous amongst us might just have “run naked through town centre singing Nessun Dorma” as say,number five on our Bucket List. That might be an option if one is going to pop one’s clogs imminently. Somehow though, I don’t think such an eccentric venture would be viewed with enthusiasm or approval by the unfortunate individuals who witnessed it, especially if the culprit was in exceptional health!
Seriously though, forget the Bucket List. What are the best memories you have? I imagine the highest on the list are the random, spontaneous moments that didn’t seem so significant at the time yet have remained so vivid and special that it’s a joy to have them called to mind again and again.
I remember watching a sub-titled movie with my Dad one rainy Saturday afternoon; the two of us bored and restless. Me because I had nowhere to go and nobody to go there with. My Dad because the racing had been cancelled, his incomplete betting slips discarded in frustration. We inadvertently stumbled across an obscure Russian film on BBC 2. Our initial reluctance to watch a rather sombre black and white epic disappeared as we both became drawn in by the plot. I won’t bore you with the details. In a word it was SAD. So much so that I cried at the end….and I swear I caught my Dad wiping a tear from his eye too. The rest, as they say, is history. I now drive my family insane with my obsession for dark, Nordic, sub-titled dramas. That to me, was a special moment. I didn’t have ‘watch obscure Film Noir with Dad one rainy Saturday afternoon’. It just happened and it has stayed with me all my life.
It seems like yesterday five year old me was sitting in a city centre cafe with my Mum wiping my mouth with her handkerchief, putting it back in her large leather handbag and clipping it tight shut with the brass metal clasp. We went back out into the store and I continued following her around, mesmerised as her high heels clip-clopped on the highly polished floorboards. The sub-conscious is a marvellous thing. I obviously didn’t know at the time how vivid the memory would be but I’m grateful for it nonetheless.
The point I am making is this. Don’t make Bucket Lists. Do that thing that you want to do. Just don’t list them like some kind of ‘to do’ challenge. If you don’t make a list, you can’t berate yourself for being such a procrastinating, pathetic wimp.
The general ethos amongst us these days appears to be a ‘live for today’ attitude. You Only Live Once. Really? How do you know? What if you live more than once and your next life is based on what you accomplished in your previous one?
“So, what did you do in this life?”
“I lived. For today.”
“What did you do for others?”
“Erm…..well, it’s like this. I thought You Only Lived Once, so I was so busy living for today….”
“Right – in your next life you’re going to be a gnat….learn from your mistakes. Next!”
Maybe Buddha put it more eloquently, but a satisfactory, fulfilling life resulting in true happiness really does derive from helping others. Not necessarily from living a hedonistic, over-indulgent life. Fond memories are not designed, life doesn’t work like that. It really is those seemingly insignificant moments we remember when we look back. The times when we connected with others and just simply enjoyed their company.
Bucket Lists have been done to the death (pun intended). In the quest to have the most original Bucket Lists I’m sure some may have even met an untimely end. How ironic.
“Note to self: the Sahara marathon wasn’t such a great idea.The End”.
There’s nothing more ‘middle-class’ than a Bucket List. For most of them cost money, lots of it. They invariably involve travel to exotic destinations. In reality, a Bucket List is a luxury few can afford. I’d hazard a guess there are those who have actually gone into debt to complete one. Does that mean the more financially deprived have less of a life? I think not. Don’t make a Bucket List; and more importantly, never EVER re-mortgage your house to complete one……………