Saturday, April 23, 2011

A List by Any Other Name is Still a List

There are lists for everything these days: best movies, worst movies, the very rich, the worst dressed, the best dressed, top 100 lists and bottom 100 list. I’m a list maker myself but usually more on the “Things I have to do” kind. Unfortunately when I start these lists they become pages of things I need to do and then I sit down and watch bad TV because there is no way I will get anything done. There is one list that I have never made, though I think of doing it often, and that is a Bucket List.


I didn’t know what a Bucket List was until the movie with the same name came out in 2007. Then it was what all my friends were talking about and they would ask me, “Do you have a list?”. “Have you done anything from your Bucket List?”. Uh, no. A bucket list requires a conversation with your soul. This list that will contain your hearts desires, all of the things you want to do, that you feel will make you complete (or at least a life lived well). First off, how do you decide how many things should be on this list? I’m a planner and I require some structure if I am going to make this list. Second, are there rules for the kinds of things I can put on this list? If you’re married do the things have to include your spouse? Where would I get the money to do the things I write on my list? Does world peace seem too extreme?

Probably world peace would not go on my Bucket List because I am under the vague assumption that the items on this list are meant to be about just you and well I don’t see how I could accomplish world peace on my own. I think it all comes back to fear. Fear that there is the possibility that you have wasted this one life given you and that there was so much more you could have done. Which if you think about it seems a rational train of thought because let’s be honest, unless you’re Bill Gates you will not accomplish all of the things you are capable of imaging. I have apprehension that I would make the list and then have too many regrets (depression) that I wasn’t able to do the things I thought I wanted to do. This would then put me back in front of the TV for more really bad reality shows.

I found a book with an accompanying website that will help me create a list. How To Live Your Best Life - The Essential Guide for Creating and Achieving Your Life List, the book contains nine exercises to help you determine exactly what you want from life, as well as a detailed road map to help you achieve it. At 45 you would think that I could decide on my own what I want from life, thank you very much. There are websites out there that divide the list by season or how old you are. But all it really takes is a pen, paper and determination. Look at Susie Mann, a 79-year-old grandmother, who has always been a bit of a daredevil. She's gone swimming with sharks, paddled down a foaming river on a raft, and even harnessed herself to a bungee cord for a 400-foot cliff dive over Africa's Zambezi River. She also has been diagnosed with terminal intestinal cancer. Maybe I need to wait till I’m older to make a list, perhaps old age helps you narrow down the things that really matter.

There is some motivation for making my list now, apparently Princess Cruise’s has a contest for the best Bucket List and I would like to take a cruise, someday. Perhaps the movie the Bucket List has put too much pressure on people to live this exceptional life. After all it isn’t as though I don’t have a life; it just isn’t all that I think it could be. I have a spouse, kids, job and a new career on the way. Plus as a bonus I have three great dogs and two cats, really does life get any better than that? If I decide to jump off a bridge (which I won’t because I don’t like heights) and soar through the air like a bird, until the cord rips my body back up to the bridge, will I have lived a better, more fulfilling life? Personally I don’t think so but there is that part me that wonders if I am missing out on some grand adventure that life had planned for me and I missed the boat. Maybe that is what making a Bucket List is all about, a list of all the possibilities you might have had if you had more money, time and less trepidation.

William Ross Wallace once said, “Every man dies – Not every man lives”. I take that to mean that getting up every morning, brushing your teeth and dressing for the day does not qualify you for living. There was a bumper sticker that I think is relevant, “I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?” That I could live by. Who am I kidding I probably couldn’t even do that, I like clean clothes and so does my family. Plus if I didn’t do the laundry it would go on my ‘To Do” list and that would just give me more anxiety.

A list could be selfish, in that it is all about you (or me if I ever made one). There are other people, usually, in a person’s life that must be considered. Take a spouse for instance, how would my husband feel if I said I’ve always wanted to sleep with a foreigner, so I’m off to find me one so I can cross it off my list. I’m thinking that could lead to some problems short and long term. So what this tells me is that there are rules as to what can be on a person’s Bucket List.

Maybe I’m just a realist at heart. I know that if I make this list most of it won’t happen and I’m not sure if that would make me feel worse about myself or even maybe I would get mad at my guy (and myself) for not making more money so I can go do the list. Men are always so great at pointing out the obvious, like Sven Erikkson’s quote, “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure”. Really I didn’t know that. I’m much more inclined to positive thinking like when Kris Kringle sings with the Winter Warlock, “You never will get where you’re going if you never get up on your feet”. I think that is the problem with making a list, you have to go somewhere, away from here. I like my here and I like my now, too. Maybe the key is to stop watching Hollywood movies because really is there any way to live up to the big screen version of life?

Lists, rules and agendas are not for the living. Maybe they are for the people who are closer to dying because what do they have to lose? Those that are still kicking it and hoping to be doing so for a bit longer really can’t afford to up and leave those we love and be selfish in fulfilling our hearts desires. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground, somewhere between the teenage angst of not knowing what you want in the world and midlife contentment that what I have for now is good and will hopefully get better. Life is what you make it, or so they say (not sure who the “they” is but whatever). For today anyway I choose not to make my “Bucket List” and save it for another day, when I feel that perhaps my tomorrows won’t be coming around.

3 comments:

  1. smiles. great to see you...and i am so with you...no lists for me...just live in the moment...my wife on the other hand is a bit OCD when it comes to lists...but no they are not for me...live on!

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  2. Glad to have you blogging again!

    I think my Bucket List would be pretty tame, by others' standards. I'd want to visit family (my granddaughter is saving her last Easy Bake Oven baking mix just for me), travel a little, and just enjoy the life I have left.

    No big adventures are necessary.

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  3. Melanie here! I enjoyed this piece, please email me--I have a question about your blog. MelanieLBowen[at]gmail[dot]com

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