Among my friends we’ve been talking about our bucket lists and I’m always embarrassed to admit that my current bucket list is empty. In case you don’t know about the concept, it’s anything you want to do before you kick the bucket. Many of my friends have a number of places they want to visit before they pass on, but I just don’t feel that way about travel. I have eight weeks of unused vacation and enough money to fly anywhere in the world, but I just don’t have the desire to go anywhere. Nor do I want to go skydiving or swim with dolphins or see the pyramids. I’m not dying to do anything, and I wonder if I’m pitiful because of that.
I have to wonder if the fullness of people’s bucket lists are related to their age. When you are young you feel desperate to do and see everything. Because I don’t have much energy anymore, and I’ve got a lot of aches and pains, I just want to relax and kick back when the world is not being demanding. The idea of flying to Paris sounds painful to me, even though I’d love to go there. And I certainly wouldn’t want any more aches and pains by doing something foolish like sky diving.
No, at this time and condition in my life, I need to reevaluate the whole bucket list concept. My wife tells me I’m too young to feel old, but I do. Both mentally and physically. I’m approaching my 59th birthday, which makes me think about the big six oh. I really don’t believe 60 is the new 30.
Be that as it may, I do want to find things for my bucket list. Even I would think I’d be too pathetic if it was empty. But my current desires don’t really feel like bucket list items. For about thirty years now I’ve wanted to lose weight. I don’t need to be my skinny 27 year old self, when I weighed 155, but being under 200 would be a dream come true. On the other hand I need to be careful what I wished for, because many conditions leading to kicking the bucket would bring on such weight loss.
There are destinations I could add to my bucket list, but they aren’t practical, like going to Mars, or time traveling back in time to June 16, 1967 to see the Monterey Pop Festival. I do have one desire that’s semi-realistic. I’ve always wanted to write a novel that got published. Maybe I should alter that some, and put in my bucket list the desire to have a short story published. Okay, I will. That’s one item in my bucket list.
That’s the trouble with my desires, they all involved being accomplished at some skill. I’ve never wanted anything involving plunking down some cash and just having it. And many of my desires from youth were downright foolish, like wanting to play the guitar. I have absolutely no musical talent. I can’t hum a melody, I can’t even recite the lines to any of my favorite songs, so why wish to play the guitar? Because I love hearing music. Even now I have the urge to make number two on my bucket list to be able to play seven songs on the guitar well enough to be recognizable.
Like that will happen! But what if it could? Okay, number two on the bucket list is knowing my limitations and truly understanding them.
I’m not sure if the whole concept of the bucket list doesn’t belong to a certain kind of person, the thrill seeker. When I was young I did a lot of things that could have gotten me killed or jailed, and I was lucky to keep my brain and body as intact as it is. I have a lot of regrets, but they aren’t about places and activities I missed. If I ended up on my deathbed tonight, the regrets I’d have about running out of time would be over my failure to be a better person. And those details are not ones I’m ready to confess now. There’s no place on the globe I can visit than can make me a better person.
But that’s another failure. I’m too contemplative. I can’t be a better person by thinking, only by doing. Nor do I wish to imply I want to be a good person, that’s another trap like seeking thrills.
I’m not sure if life is about the cards in your hand, but how you play them.
JWH – 8/31/10