Making a new list


Rarotonga, Capital of the Cook Islands

In a post on Vibrant Nation, a Web site for women over 50, DarryleP created a “list that’s the flip side of the Bucket List.” She calls it the “F**k-it List”.

The popular movie of that name added “Bucket List” to the cultural lexicon. Since then, it seems everyone is compiling Bucket Lists of things they dream of doing before they die.

The sentiment predated the movie, of course. The best-selling 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, updated ed. (2010): A Traveler’s Life List helped stir up so many imitators a Google search nets 123,000,000 results. That’s a lot of people pressuring themselves to see, taste, try, read, watch, experience, travel, paint, dance, create, and generally keep contentment off the radar screen until there’s a check by each entry.

A while back it struck me I no longer have a Bucket List. I’ve finally landed in a life that’s so richly satisfying I’m generally happy with whatever the day brings. On more challenging days, I’m convinced the next day will be better.

DarryleP challenges people to let go of the “shoulda done, woulda done, coulda done” and let themselves permanently off the hook. She shared her own short list. That inspired me to share mine. So here it is.

I no longer need to:

  • Change the world. I used to spend a lot more time railing against injustices than I do now. I also spent less time celebrating. It’s not that I care less about the injustices or have stopped doing my small bit to challenge them. But I’m focusing more on beauty these days. This planet delights me. I know I’m one of the lucky ones, and I’m grateful.
  • Hang onto every book. I’m a book addict. I love to wander the aisles of a book store and come home with a new addition for my library. I feel rich. Many moves and smaller living spaces have curbed my book buying, but I continue to add to my collection. It’s smaller now because I regularly give books away. I hand them out on permanent loan. The only proviso is that the receiver feel free to pass them on.
  • Kelowna waterfront

    My home town, Kelowna, British Columbia, as beautiful in its own way

    Accumulate. Stuff seems to reproduce as soon as we turn our backs. Closets and basements fill. Shelves and table tops overflow. Stuff is demanding. “Feed me. Dust me. Shift me to make room for more.” Recycling keeps the stuff circulating. Not bringing it home in the first place keeps it from making demands. Besides, my partner and I live in a small condo. More stuff = clutter. When my mother made her last move, everything she owned fit into a tiny Gremlin. I am becoming my mother’s daughter.

  • Look in the mirror and see a young, firm body. The grey-haired head now sits on a body that ripples like one of those old fun-house mirrors. This body still gets me everywhere I want to go. It enjoys all the senses. The mind it houses is more content with and excited by this incredible life than ever. This body wants nurturing and nourishing, not self-critical judgements.
  • Spend several years doing community development in some remote village, in some remote country. I no longer believe they need me to teach them anything. I still think they—whoever “they” are—have a lot to teach their foreign visitors. I think this is related to #1. It’s also related to my having worked in community development for enough years to realize outside help is generally a whole lot less helpful than trusting communities to know what they need. We colonialist types need to get over ourselves. We have a long and sordid history of trying to remake the world as we think it ought to be.
  • See all the sights I figured I had to see before I died. I have lived a year at a time in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, and half a year in Australia. I’ve traveled extensively in Europe and the UK and dipped my toes in New Zealand, some Pacific Islands, Singapore, Malaysia, and Myanmar/Burma. I’ve lived as a citizen in the U.S. and Canada. Any traveling I do from this point on will be a bonus, but if I never make it to a country that’s new to me, I’ll still be grateful for all I’ve seen and experienced.

I could easily compile a much longer list, but I’ll stop there. I no longer need to write everything that could possibly be said about a subject. I no longer need to edit something endlessly before I pop it on a blog.

I no longer need to keep adding to this post.

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18 comments for “Making a new list

  1. Cyndi in BC
    October 1, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Cathryn,

    Are you a member of http:/

    I think you would enjoy it!

  2. October 1, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I released my first book in Williams Lake. I haven’t been active on Book Crossing lately because I know so many people here who are happy to receive books – and pass them on. But I did release a book at the Bohemian Café in Kelowna recently. I take it you also belong to this gem of a site.

  3. October 2, 2010 at 11:54 am

    This post is lovely people try to strive to achieve so much and they miss the beauty that is there before them. Pleasures of simple life..

  4. Trish Peters
    October 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    You’re spot on Cathryn. On our trip to Canada last year, we saw a fraction of what we’d have liked to see but we had a fabulous time and have wonderful memories. After all, there’s always next time. Even if there’s not, who cares. It’s useless to fret over what you may have missed out on.

  5. Sharon Currie
    October 3, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Cathryn you’re absolutely right. There are many shoulda and coulda dones in all our lives. And we all compile our own “bucket lists” as our life journey gets shorter. Mine is to cultivate as many friendships as possible and I am truly blessed having both you and Trish in my life. Thank you both.

  6. October 4, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Sharon & Trish – you both add to my store of memories, which I treasure far more than any list.

  7. Donna
    October 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Well said. Thanks 🙂

  8. October 8, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Stuff is demanding. Yes, yes, yes! And this moment, too, is enough … just as it is. That’s something Tolle really stresses in his book A New Earth. We go through life convinced the next moment will be better, so we rush to get there, never enjoying the bounty of the present moment. But “this moment” is enough. A good mantra, don’t you think? Thanks for the lovely post — it’s brilliant! –Daisy

  9. October 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Cathyrn, LOVED your list. This is a very important post. I’ve bookmarked it and will be coming back to it for in-depth consideration. (Love BC–you don’t NEED to go anywhere else!)

  10. October 8, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Remembering to take pleasure in the moment, focusing on the feel of the keys beneath my fingers, the smell of wind-dried sheets, the sound of lapping water…how often I have to lasso my mind and pull it back from its wanderings.

  11. October 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I’ve just come in from a walk. Wind is whipping the lake to tiny white caps. Clouds are gathering. The air is fresh. All I need is here. And I do love BC!

  12. Hylton Harrington
    October 12, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    How I needed to read this! I feel validated and liberated by your words.
    Thank you Cathryn,

  13. October 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    This is a post after my own heart, Cathryn.

    How wonderful for you to have come to this realisation and have the time and health to enjoy it! “This body still gets me everywhere I want to go. It enjoys all the senses. The mind it houses is more content with and excited by this incredible life than ever. This body wants nurturing and nourishing, not self-critical judgements.”

    Peace of mind, spirit, soul and body come from within, regardless of what “they” say. It takes courage to recognise and honour who we are.

    Thanks for writing such a “contagious” post.

  14. October 18, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Your comment makes me sing. Thanks so much for this. And, dear readers, don’t miss Marianna Paulson’s wise and witty blog, Auntie Stress: No nonsense steps to a life with less stress.

  15. October 19, 2010 at 7:39 am

    Well, Cathryn, it’ll be a duet, then. 🙂

    Thanks for your pat-on-the-back!

  16. July 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Time to kill at work and here I am on a seemingly random post.

    While I do have a “100 Goals before I die” list, it is one that changes with the wind and serves mainly to focus my current intent. I like your list!

    My goal – and there is really only one – to be able to look back on my life without an “if only” in sight. 🙂

  17. July 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Sounds like the most worthwhile goal anyone could have.

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