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.
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.