I’ve been thinking about my bucket list lately. A lot. This all came about from attending Oprah’s “Life You Want” weekend. Oprah gently guided us through workshops and exercises designed to help us discover what “the rest of our life” (after the weekend) would look like. The excitement of figuring out my new life was shattered when I started calculating how much time that actually might be. Then I started to panic. I’m 52 years old. How much time do I really have left to do the things that I want to do? Have I wasted some of the time I was given already? Can I make up for it? Do I get a do-over? What DO I really want to do with whatever time I have left. If I’m lucky I may have another twenty to thirty good years. If I’m lucky…
The chance to experience Oprah’s words of wisdom was a lifetime dream for me and my stepmother. It was amazing. Check – Oprah can now be crossed off the bucket list. A nice woman named Talie sat next to us at the event and over the course of an evening and a day we learned a little more about her. She told us that she was having heart surgery in a week and she had always wanted to see Oprah. Oprah was on her bucket list too. Talie told us that if she didn’t survive the surgery she was happy that one of the last things she got to do was see Oprah. I don’t know how her surgery turned out because I did not get her contact information. I really hope Talie made it and can continue to cross other things off her bucket list. It occurred to me that IF I had a bucket list what would be on it?
I went online to see what others had to say about “bucket lists”. I learned that there are thousands of ideas for things to do before you die. Not only are there ideas for what you might want to do but there are lists for what you SHOULD do before you die. There are bucket lists suggestions for every season. There are lists for things to do before you turn 30, 40 or 50. There are “date night” bucket lists and “vacation” bucket lists. There’s a list for things to do before and after you have a baby. I even found one list entitled “The ULTIMATE Bucket List”. Talk about pressure. All of a sudden not having a “bucket list” made me feel seriously inadequate.
I do understand the concept of the bucket list. I’m a list maker and I always have been. Lists help you get things done. Writing your dreams down on paper puts those dreams out into the universe. It creates a vision for making those wishes come true. It provides a rewarding schedule of fun things to look forward to in the future. Is it really possible to do ALL the things on your list while still living in the here and now? Before you die.
I wondered if I even needed a bucket list. I definitely don’t need to climb a mountain, scuba dive, sky dive, learn to speak Chinese, sail around the world or learn to be champion tap dancer to feel that my life has meaning. I have no desire to run a marathon, see a volcano, take up an extreme sport or fly in a helicopter to feel significant. I especially don’t need the urgency or the stress of having to accomplish everything on my “bucket list”. That might be enough to kill me.
In looking back over my life I can already “check off” some amazing experiences. I grew up with a loving and supportive family. I learned many life lessons from my grandparents. Those lessons are better than anything I could have learned from Oprah. My grandparents showed me how to live a good life. I’m extremely grateful to still be able to have quality time with my parents. All four of them. My family means the most to me and I love any time I can spend with them. I’ve fallen in love a few times. I’ve had my heart broken a few times. From the heartbreak I learned to recognize what true love feels like and I have that now. I’ve given birth to two amazing human beings. That is a miracle. If I experience nothing else in this life my two boys are the greatest gifts and miracles I have known. I graduated from college and later received a masters degree. I’ve acquired wisdom and insight from work experiences that have furthered my education beyond school. I’ve lived in seven different states and have been gifted with the most fantastic lifetime friends from all of those places. I’ve traveled to twenty-five out of fifty states in the U.S. Seeing the other twenty-five is doable. I would like to see the rest of the USA by RV the way my dad has seen it. I’ve traveled to other beautiful countries and experienced other cultures. I’ve made my way back to the South and am living in the place of my dreams with the man of my dreams. I have a comfortable home and love spending time there. I have been blessed by the life experiences I’ve already had.
If I were to make a list of things “to do” before I die it would be fairly short. I just want to do the things I love with the people I love. It has become easier to focus on what those things are as I have become older. It would be nice to visit a few places if time and money allowed – Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, the Grand Tetons, New York City. There are a few other countries I would like to see but if I only traveled to Italy to eat a really fabulous meal I would be happy with that. I don’t need to read all the classic literature ever written. I would be thrilled just to read the books on my bookshelf. Those books were hand selected by ME and for ME because I thought they would be interesting. I would like to read them. I’m content with being at a place in my life where I really don’t need a whole lot. I have no regrets for what I haven’t done yet.
The most important wish on my list is for my boys to be happy. I want them to know how much they are loved. Every day. I want them to know joy in their life. I want them to know that their life is a gift. I want them to know that all of the happy times make up for any disappointments. I don’t want them to fret about the past or fear the future. I’ve done way too much of that in my 52 years and I want them to learn from me that it’s not that important in the big scheme of life. I want them to know love. I want them to be proud of all they do. I want them to be content. I want them to know peace. I want them to know that the life they have matters. That’s all.
I want my dear, sweet husband to know how very much he is loved. I want him to know how grateful I am that we found each other. Every day. I want to grow old with him and I pray that I have the chance to do that.
The “bucket list” concept seems to me like focusing on “going out with a bang” while underscoring the importance of just living in the moment. Is it really necessary to put “inspire someone” or “witness a miracle” or “pursue your passion” or “perform and act of kindness” on a list to be crossed off with a pen? Those are not big accomplishments. We should do them anyway. Every day. Rob Bell, minister and author, says that life itself is a miracle. When you are born and take your first breath “it is a miracle”. Breathing every day is a miracle. Waking up and realizing that you are breathing and doing THAT every day until you take your last breath is a miracle. The life you want begins with the life you have now. It’s the little everyday things that matter. It matters and it is miraculous. We only have today. We don’t know about tomorrow.
If I knew that I would “kick the bucket” tomorrow I would go to the beach. I would spread out a blanket and gather my family around. We would listen to Jimmy Buffet music and drink wine. We would eat good food (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, ham biscuits, vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, peach cobbler, apple pie, key lime pie and cheesecake. If I’m dying I won’t need anything healthy like vegetables!) We would tell stories. We would hug each other. I would do all this while I waited for the end in a place where the earth stretches out to the horizon to meet up with heaven. If I’m lucky…
My Bucket List:
1. Spend time with the people I love
2. Tell the people I love that I love them. Do this a lot.
3. Breathe and be grateful for it.
4. Say “thank you” for the day.