August 22, 2010

On Bucket Lists...

I'm sure by now everyone knows what a "Bucket List" is, but for those who do not, here it is in a nutshell:

A personal list of things you want to see, experience or accomplish before you kick the bucket - or, bluntly put, before you die.

I used to be a bit paranoid about bucket lists - I mean, is it mandatory that you die at the end? Or can you just live out the rest of your days peacefully content knowing that you did not waste your short time here in this wonderful earthly life?

I am now settled on this question, in part due to the wise words of Leonardo da Vinci:

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well used brings happy death. ~Leonardo da Vinci

I, for one, would hate to come to the close of this marvelous adventure we call "life," with the sad realization that my time here was not well spent. Thus, I have decided to make my own bucket list.

Since this should be less of a whim, such as the yearly commitment to our New Year's Resolutions, that is followed religiously for, oh, about 30 to 60 days, 90 if you're very self-structured, I think the bucket list should incorporate the three main areas of life:


PEOPLE: Are there people I want to meet or know better? Maybe I want someone as a friend, lover, mentor or spiritual guide. Do I need to "clean house" and remove some people from my personal orbit?

The People category includes myself. What have I not done that I need to? Have I learned enough? Cared enough? Helped enough? Quietly gotten to really know myself enough? Have I been kind enough? Have I taken care of my body enough so that I feel as healthy as I could? I'm sorry to say that I can answer no to all these questions.

PLACES: Okay, this is my absolute biggie - I have made it clear to some people in my life that the thought of becoming old or incapable of traveling at will, and having not seen enough of this beautiful world, makes me shudder with sadness. So, yes - this will be a major portion of my list. The world is a big place, and I need to get out there and see it!

THINGS: Do I surround myself with all the possessions that I feel would make me happy? Okay, I do confess that I like "stuff." I'm not selfless enough to say I don't, and it really doesn't bother me to want things. I don't ask for things from others, and I'm fully prepared to work as hard as I need to in order to get these treasures - and, let's face it - it just makes me HAPPY when I get something new. Nothing wrong with that!

And what about the intangible things? Is there something I'm doing, or not doing, that is causing me stress? Are there causes that I think are important that I should join or promote? Is there a hobby, sport, activity or craft that I need to participate in or learn? What events should I experience?

And, finally, is there a mandatory number of items in each category? Or the list in total? Is 10 too few? 100 too many? I don't have a clue here. Not having a clue is a good thing - it gives me the freedom to just make it as long as I want it to be.

So, there's the framework that I've come up with. I'm sure my bucket list will form and reform, with minor and major adjustments, but the important thing for me is that I start. After all, “The journey is the reward.” (Chinese Proverbs).


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