Saturday, December 5, 2015

Friday Reflections (Not on Friday) Vol. 3 - The Bucket List

The Bucket List

I've always had a bucket list, although I never referred to it as a that until Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson mainstreamed the phrase in the 2007 movie, The Bucket List. Before then, I simply referred to it as my “Life's To-Do List." Yeah, I know, the title isn't very fancy or even very catchy, but that has never mattered to me because my list has not been for anyone's benefit except my own. My list has always been a living, growing, changing record of the things I’ve wanted to do at some point in my life, things that are or have been important enough for me to write down and convert from a passing notion into a concrete goal. Ya know, something magical happens once things are written down. It think we, as humans, believe that if someone takes the time to write something down, then it must be real, true, and hold some great importance.

My current bucket list is comprised of about 20 some odd items.  It is diverse, but mostly focuses around travel and experiences.  I have no items that focus on my career because I'm doing what I have always set out to do.  I have no desire to rise above the position I currently hold, no desire to be published, no desire to become a specialist, no desire to get a PhD.  The only career goal I have is to retire and putting that on my bucket list is absolutely silly, don't you think?  Here’s a random sampling of some of the items that are currently on my list:

  • Visit all 50 states
  • Walk on a black sand beach
  • See the aurora borealis
  • Drive the entire length of the Pacific coastline (doesn't have to be all at once)
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Ride in a dog sled
  • See the Red Sox play at Fenway Park
I don’t ever anticipate crossing off everything from my bucket list, for I mentioned before, my list is an ever-changing and evolving document.  I am constantly editing it - adding to it and crossing things off once they have been completed.  For example, here are some of the items that I have completed and thus crossed off:

  • See the Cubs play at Wrigley
  • Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
  • See the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person
  • See the Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day
  • See the cherry blossoms in bloom in Washington D.C.
  • Complete a half marathon
  • Swim with manatees
Looking at my list, with both the active items and the completed items on the same page, I am reminded of how blessed I've been in my forty some years on this planet, for I have seen and done some amazing things.  If I were diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow and given only a few months to live, I would have no regrets and no complaints, even though there are many remaining items on my bucket list that I haven't completed.  I know it's only human to want for more, to wish for more, but I would do my best to live out my remaining time with a grateful heart, thankful for the opportunities and experiences I've been blessed with, for the experiences and opportunities that not everyone gets.  

In the last couple of years, I have started to take some items off the list without completing them.  The first time I did this, about two years ago, I admit that I felt a little guilty.  OK, I felt EXTREMELY guilty.  Deleting the item made me feel like a quitter.  I don’t deal well with failure and abandoning it made me feel like a HUGE failure.  So, what did I do?  I put it back on my list.  Earlier this year, while revisited my bucket list, something I do two or three times a year, I noticed the item that I half-heartedly put back on my list out of guilt and/or fear of failure about a year before.  This time, however, something in me had changed.  Perhaps because I was another year older and another year wiser, I removed it and felt not one iota of guilt or shame.  To be honest, I hadn't given it a second thought until I started working on this writing prompt.  

Once upon a time, I truly wanted to attend the Kentucky Derby, but there was a catch – I wanted to do it right.  I figured this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so buying a general admission ticket and being sequestered to the infield or confined to standing room only in the paddock would not do.  I wanted to have nice seats, under the cover just in case it rained, and I wanted to dress up and wear a huge hat.  I realized back in the spring, that I no longer wanted to do it.  Something in me had changed.  My desires had changed.  I had once longed for that experience, but that wasn't the case anymore.  I decided that I’d rather spend the money it would take to buy some nice tickets ($$$), parking, and a suitable outfit and apply it towards travel, something that is much more important to me.  Things on a bucket list don't have to be carved in stone and it is totally acceptable for our bucket list items to change as we change.  It's very unrealistic and quite ridiculous to believe that everything we wanted to do in our 20s will be what we want to do in our 30s, 40s, and beyond.  As we change and grow and evolve, so should our bucket lists.  

I personally know lots of people who don't have bucket lists and a few who think keeping a bucket list is silly for various reasons.  My response - that's your prerogative.  I truly am of the mindset that you must do in this life what works for you.  Just because I keep a bucket list doesn't mean that everyone should.  I just know that keeping a bucket list works for me.  I am a list maker, a planner, and enjoy writing, so it just seems natural for me to write these things down and to periodically reflect on my list.

In conclusion, I must say that the most interesting thing about my bucket list experience is that some of the most amazing things I've done and experienced in my life were never on my bucket list.  They were things that just happened, opportunities that presented themselves and that I jumped on.  I never knew how moving it would be to stand on the beaches of Normandy, the same beaches where my grandfather came ashore several weeks after D-Day during WWII.  I never knew how amazing the view would be from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  I had no idea of how accomplished I would feel after abseiling down a 150 foot cliff in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.  These are all things I never knew I wanted to do until I did them.  Bucket list or not, I'm so thankful for every experience, regardless of how big or small, that has come my way.  

What are your thoughts on bucket lists?  Do you keep one?  If you do, what are some of the things on your list?  

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up with Mackenzie @ Reflections from Me 
and Janine @ Reflections from a Redhead.


  1. I have also removed many a thing from my bucket list that just did not suit me anymore.

    Visiting all 50 states is also on my life list!

  2. I highly recommend the barrier reef! Great list, we grow and change and yes we won't do everything we ever list, but what we will do is dream and live and have fun! Thanks for sharing #Fridayreflections

  3. a bucket list is definitely an individual preference. I don't think I ever wrote one out, but there are definitely things I have wanted to do at various stages of my life and things still left to be done before I die. My idea of a bucket list is something that is full of ideas that make me a better, more fulfilled, more generous person - and a bit of travel thrown in too!

  4. I don't have a bucket list written down, but there are three or four things that I would really like to do before I'm too old. In a way, I feel like a written bucket list would put pressure me, and I'd become upset if I wasn't able to start crossing things off in the time frame that I wanted to. Like you, most of the truly memorable things that have happened in my life have occurred in the moment or have naturally fallen into place. I'm comfortable living that way, and I know it's what's best for me. #mg

  5. I used to be the person with their bucket list set in stone but somehow over the last few years managed to unset it and become someone with more of a living, breathing list that changes as I grow older and grow... thanks for joining us for #fridayreflections xxx


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