I do not have a “bucket list” and not just because I think it’s a dumb expression. I have enough to-do lists in my life. Chore lists of things to due like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and naps. My idea list of novels and blogs to procrastinate writing. My list of belated Birthday cards to send. I will not let a list control my free time.
I do not understand people’s fascination with bucket lists, they limit experiences. Have we become such an organized, controlled society that even our fun experiences must be measured and tracked. If one is so focused on checking things off their list they miss out on all the joy of the experiences. And so many spontaneous experiences can be missed if they are not on that list.
The best trips I’ve taken, were to places I never thought of visiting until a few weeks beforehand.
One time, I requested a week off with no plans. Ten days before, I browsed an e-mail of last minute flight deals, did some research on my options and spent a wonderful week in Argentina. I did not have a list with Argentina written on it, in fact it wasn’t even on my radar. At the time Argentina was going through a financial crisis so my dollar went further than a ultra marathoner. My most expensive meal there, at a five star French restaurant which included wine chosen by the sommelier, hors d’oeuvre, entree, cognac and a dessert that contained chocolate covered rose petals cost less than twenty dollars. Since my life is not restrained by a list, I enjoyed an splendid week.
Fermented camels milk, crickets, blood pudding, rose petals, and horse meat were not on any list of mine, yet given the opportunity I tried them all. To me life is about new experiences and learning. I do not decide if I like something until I try it.
When I bungy jumped it wasn’t because it was on a list, it was because everyone I met in New Zealand had done it and loved it (except for one person, but he probably didn’t like sex either) I heard over and over “you should try it, bungy-jumping is better than sex” so I bungy-jumped. I do want to point out that I did not pay to jump off a bridge with a giant elastic band tied to my ankles. I traded a few hours of work pulling in the raft with jumpers on it, in exchange for my jumps. It was such an incredible experience that I walked out on the plank over the river twice and would recommend it cause it was better than sex. So if you have a limiting bucket list that dictates what you’ll do in your free time, add bungy jumping to it.
Another issue with having a life to-do list is change. People change. There are things I enjoyed as a teenager that I now find boring. What if I wrote a bucket list at 16? Would I be forcing myself to complete it even if I had to visit malls, dye my hair pink, become a doctor and drive a dune buggy? Places change too, a country that looks inviting one year could be at war a few years later, but if it is on your list, better add witness a war torn country onto that list. Be true to that list.
Of course there are things I read or hear about that I’d love to try and sometimes I schedule them. But I do not put them on a long-term list and focus my life on what I have yet to do. I think such a list would be stressful (how am I going to get the time and money to get all these off my list?), controlling (I’d have to turn down invitations if they conflicted with my list) and depressing in that I’d be focusing on the things I haven’t done. Always gathering up memories for a checklist as if on a scavenger hunt.
I have life goals, but even these I keep flexible. Change happens. Experiences should be savored, not checked off a list. Life is not a contest of completing tasks. Life isn’t a to-do list.