The Bucket List concept is very popular these days. Seems like everybody has one, and if they don’t, they’re either pretending they do or feeling like they should.
I confess: I do not have a list of things that I want to accomplish or places to visit before I die.
A few months ago, I asked my husband if he had a Bucket List. Believe it or not, we had never discussed it before. Apparently, he has not boarded the Bucket List train, either. When pushed (by me) to consider it, he began listing all the golf courses he’d like to play, the baseball stadiums he wants to visit and the locations he wants to scuba dive before he leaves this world.
I was not surprised. I could have made that list for him.
But then he asked me about my Bucket List, and for the first time ever I really thought about it.
Most of the things that crossed my mind were items on the Fabulous and 50 list I made last year after my 49th birthday. When the Big 5-0 became inevitable, I decided to make the most of my last year as a 40-something.
Besides not cutting my hair — a vow I made the year before — I added a few adventures to my list of things to do before I turn 50: Skydiving, piercing my nose, jumping off the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, visiting my brother in Bolivia. Losing 40 pounds is also on the list, but then, it’s been on every To Do list I’ve made in the last 15 years.
No matter how hard I tried, I could not embrace the Bucket List idea.
I’m not in denial about dying. I know it’s inevitable. Since I don’t really have a choice in the matter, I’m ready to go whenever God decides he wants my company up there on a cloud. The problem is, I’m a realist and I live too much in the moment. Those two traits just don’t allow me to have far-reaching aspirations in this uncertain life.
For instance, what if “travel across Europe on a scooter” was on my Bucket List? With my life the way it is now, the odds of that happening anytime soon are slim to none. Maybe in 10 or 20 years things will have changed enough to allow me and my husband to gallivant aimlessly through foreign countries, but I’m not counting on it.
And anyway, I’m all about short-term goals. That’s why I work so well on tight deadlines. Making a list of reachable goals to meet before I turn 50, now less than five months away, is much more practical than a lineup of exotic adventures I want to experience before I kick the bucket on some undetermined date in the vague future.
As I told my husband that day, I prefer to make the most of my life as I’m living it.
My dream is to live a certain lifestyle, where every day is filled with all the things that make me happy and fulfilled. Meaningful conversation, family and friends, lots of laughter, silly fun, good music, spontaneous dancing, delicious food, warm spring sunshine on patios and snow falling silently on cold winter days — those are the things I long for.
If I were on my death bed, right now, with only a few hours to live, my biggest regret would be not making the most of every single ordinary day.
So if I were forced to create a Bucket List, I suppose I’d make a new one when I wake every morning. I’d pretend this is the last day of my life. What do I want to accomplish today?
Now, that’s something to think about.
Kristi Parker Johnson is metro editor of the Killeen Daily Herald.