Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bucket Lists and Everyday Goals

for NaBloPoMo

I saw some posts recently that referenced the "bucket list," from the movie of the same name. The basic idea is: What do you want to do or accomplish before you die? (This sometimes includes the additional pressure of: If you only had x amount of time to live. OR by my x birthday.) I'm a little cynical about this, given that I don't have the money to pursue high-flown pursuits, and that I don't feel the need to see every last wonder of the world. But I do have some ideas.

But first, I've been interested to notice that I've already accomplished some things on OTHER people's lists.

Things I've done from other people's bucket lists:

Had my picture taken at the Grand Canyon.
Spent a month in the Southern U.S. (This is a given since I already live here.)
Gone a day without the Internet.
Hiked the Rocky Mountains.
Volunteered with a political campaign.
Seen The Nutcracker.
Gone skinny dipping at a public pool, lake, or beach.
Gone Christmas carolling.
Spent a whole day reading a great novel.
Forgiven my parents.

I actually find this a more interesting endeavor than making my own list. I spent some time trolling for more, but most of what I found is *advice* on making a list, not people's lists in particular.

Then I thought of some things that I've already done in my life that could belong on a bucket list had I only thought of such a concept earlier. This could be called

Things that I'll look back on as having experienced before I die:

Given a eulogy.
Backpacked (hiked) to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back.
Hiked in the Rockies.
Experienced alpine tundra.
Learned how to swear in a foreign language.
Flown as a passenger in a small plane.
Gone on a blind date.
Learned how to take a compliment.
Sat on a jury.
Fell deeply in love -- helplessly and unconditionally.
Stayed out all night dancing and went to work the next day without much sleep.
Grew a garden.
Created my Family Tree.
Climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
Learned to drive a stick shift.
Learned to speak another language. (Several other languages to various degrees.)
Got married.
Saw Michelangelo's David and several of his Pietás in person.
Climbed to the top of St. Peter's Dome in Rome.
Made a music video.
Drove 4000+ miles across country by myself.
Danced naked under the moon at the Winter Equinox (only once!).
Walked a labyrinth.
Completed the Iron Dancer circuit.
Got an academic award.
Fired my own load of pottery (with glazes that I mixed myself) in a gas kiln.
Watched an orb spider spin their web for 45 minutes.

There are some other things I'll also be glad to have experienced, but I think that might be a different post. Then there are

Things I really need to have on my bucket list:

Write the novel I know I have inside me. (Write and publish a book.)
Shower in a waterfall.
Ask for a raise.
Learn to play a musical instrument with some degree of skill.
Teach someone illiterate to read.
Write down my personal mission statement, follow it, and revise it from time to time.
Sing a great song in front of an audience.
Drive across America from coast to coast.
Write my will.
Sleep under the stars. (this might have happened already)
Overcome my fear of failure.
Overcome my fear of success.
Attend one really huge rock concert.
Create my own web site.
Make myself spend a half-day at a concentration camp and swear never to forget.
Look into my child's eyes, see myself, and smile.
Perform in a play.
Watch my child graduate from college.
Get my Masters.
Get a tattoo.
Get rid of clutter and keep only what matters most.
Make a pilgrimage.
Visit Alsace and see the village of my ancestors.
Make Creme Brulée.
Stand up for people whose rights are denied.
Spend a year living in another country.
Learn to prune a tree.
Let go of old pieces of my past.
Become independently wealthy and start foundations to make people's lives better.
Learn to spell, already.
Make more pottery.
Raise my child.

Now what remains is to make a serious list from scratch.

My dilemma is that I'm either too lofty and high-faluting in my ambitions or too mundane. I could set a goal for things that I want to accomplish by the time I'm 50, but it's too depressing that I'm already into middle-age compared to many bloggers.

Actually, I've learned to be happy with with my life so far. I've learned to accept that I will never be the fabulously talented person accomplishing grand things. Before ya'll scream at me that it isn't so, I'll remind you that grand goals have a way of paralyzing me. It's not that I don't have my goals, but life has a way of making other plans, and the grand dreams are not necessarily the same things that actually make me happy with my life. Dreams are good, but let's see what is actually within the realm of possibility. I don't plan to live with regret.

So let me have my lofty and mundane things. I plan to savor all of my days. I'm not planning to set myself up to bemoan that I never made it to the Taj Mahal or Paris, especially if I have no great ambition to go to either.

You could argue that the whole point of the Bucket List is to live your life now, and I would agree.

So let me place bare feet on green grass.
I want to to eat fruits and vegetables in season every year.
To savor everything.
To laugh often and much.
To hold my child.
To sing with joy and enthusiasm.

Let me see the American West/South-West periodically and hike about, and I'll be happy. Why wait for Paris to feel you have lived your life?


Abigail said...

This post made me all weepy. Loved it!

Joy! said...

Thank you, Abi. It ended up in a different place than I expected when I started it.

tara said...

hmm. yeah. well put.