Bucket List, Schmucket List

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……………

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About forshaw59

Writing blogs to express my opinion, provoke debate and thought in a non confrontational way.
This entry was posted in The world in general and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Bucket List, Schmucket List

  1. Barbara Deus says:

    I too hate Bucket Lists. A lot of wasted energy on stating the obvious, living your life. For instance, the list is a personal one so somebody, like me, could have a simple list. The first on the list would be to watch the sunset at Crosby beach, then to smile at every stranger I meet in a day, maybe try my hand at ice skating and then have a Spa Day in a top hotel. These are simple but pleasurable things to do. But you know what, I don’t need to put them on a list. I can do them if, and when, I want to. To do them spontaniously gives me more pleasure. Talking about those who are at the end of their life I often talk to patients about their lives and how they come to terms with their prognosis. The one thing that always comes up is the fact that life has to be lived in the moment, don’t go rushing ahead and planning your life in the future. Your life is right now, this minute, this second. Quality time that you will never get back so enjoy it. Many of them put their quality time on hold until they had enough money to get the Bucket List out, but time run out for them. Time isn’t ours, it’s a present that is given to us on a daily basis. Don’t abuse it because it may run out sooner than you want it to.

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  2. Lesley Forshaw says:

    I look at a bucket list from a totally different viewpoint. For me it focuses the mind – time does go quickly – in fact it jumps by leaps & bounds as you get older. Time can pass you by – in fact it will be Christmas soon. I don’t want it to get to Christmas and look back on the previous few months and see that I haven’t done anything other than the humdrum of ‘work, housework, watch tv with the odd night out thrown in’ and if we aren’t careful, this is an easy trap to fall into. With the best will in the world, there are plenty of things I want to do, so many in fact, they are easy to forget. For example, the tennis at the O2 which is on the TV every November – I have sat & watched this for 3 years on the run and each year think ‘I’d love to go to that’. By the time January comes I’ve forgotten all about it. So this year my challenge was ‘to do something every month I have always wanted to do’ and it took me quite a while and a bit of help from husband & daughter to remind me of everything (or at least 12 things) I have always wanted to do. I have written them down and I tick them off when they are done. It doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money. Speke Hall and going to watch a Polo Match (both costing less that a tenner) are on the list. It gives me a lot of pleasure to see what I have achieved so far and to see what I have planned for the next few months. I know that by the end of this year, I will have achieved far more by writing this list than I ever would have done without it. If we only get one chance at life – then I’m planning on fitting in as much as I can.

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    • forshaw59 says:

      Thanks for the reply Lesley; it’s good to know I’m writing something that evokes a reaction. However, the comment you made about ‘humdrum’ is exactly the point I made in my blog. Everyday life should be welcomed and embraced; it makes up probably 90% of our time here on this planet and I think it should be enjoyed, not endured. We all have goals but I would love to know the general consensus of those faced with limited time – what their best memories are and how significant their ‘to do’s figure in the grand scheme of things. In general, I believe too much emphasis is placed on what/where/who we are these days; it’s imperative we all have fulfilling, stimulating lives of course it is, but as long as we take the time to be mindful and embrace the simple, spontaneous moments too.

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  3. Kel Can says:

    Hi Jane.
    Firstly I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and the more I read the more I am convinced we have a lot in common. I have not made a bucket list. Considering how outgoing I am and how I love a challenge some of my friends have been surprised by this when I have been previously asked. I feel that whether you need to write a bucket list is down to your personality type and maybe your attitude towards life. This does not mean I would judge anyone who has, or had not written a bucket list. Part of the reason I wouldn’t write a bucket list is because it would continually change. Like yourself (and many others I am sure) I see great value in the basic things in life. I know that nothing I could write on a bucket list would surpass my desire to have a pint with my Dad and watch him enjoy the horse racing or take my Nan (Captain) for a cream cake. Neither of these are possible any longer but if I am honest and was asked five years ago for things to fill my bucket list I fear these would not have appeared.
    I do have many ideas that float around my head and I intend to complete some of them if and when the time is right. Life however is unpredictable and I change as a person every day, so my bucket list would end up a complete mess. For me it is more about having some goals and aims and then based on how many times a desire to do something revisits you, focus a little harder to make that happen. A current focus I have is to start my own charity. It has been a desire for three or four years and continues to revisit so I know I have to try. Why think small hey!!
    Life sometimes gets in the way of our desires though and that is why we must all use our time wisely. Simple actions and minor things we do have an impact on the following moment. We have all had moments where we have thought about how different a situation could have been if we had done something differently. Actions that can impact life dramatically or just slightly.
    The key for me is considering the value in everything. I get great pleasure from helping others and spending time with people I love. I also enjoy to travel and do things that do not benefit others particularly but I enjoy, which then brings us to balance. Happiness is about finding balance. If a bucket list (whether you complete one of the things or all of them) will make you smile and give you a sense of purpose or desire then I say make one. If it won’t and you want to save the trees or cut down on electric then don’t.
    Bucket lists – I can take them or leave them 😉

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    • forshaw59 says:

      Thanks for the reply! My blogs are never intended to offend, preach or generalise so I’m glad of your feedback. I guess I feel there is far too much pressure placed on personal achievements than just improving as a human being and making the world a better place while enjoying the day to day wonderful ordinariness yet extra – ordinariness that is life on our beautiful planet. Good luck with the charity!

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