The last several weeks of posts have been a little on the serious side. Except for the one about the train trip through the Verde River Canyon, things have been a little "deep." Several readers have noted that the articles after my sabbatical are different from before: more personal, more philosophical, more varied in subject matter. I'm glad you've noticed and most seem pleased.
Today, just for a change of pace, I thought I'd write about something with a bit less heft, a little more tongue in cheek: my personal non-bucket list, things I don't feel compelled to accomplish while still on this side of the grass. Would I refuse any of these if offered? Probably not, but I don't plan on scheduling them. They just aren't compelling enough at this stage of life.
In thinking abut my anti-bucket list I discovered a lot of web sites that give me lists to choose from, in case I can't come up with my own ideas. In fact, my favorite is this one: 329 Bucket List ideas to try before you die. If you have no idea of what should be on your list, either to do or to avoid, this is for you since it covers virtually everything. In reviewing it I found a surprising number of things I have already done that didn't occur to me would be bucket-list worthy.
Actually, it took awhile but I came up with my own list, my own ideas, based on my personality and my own desires and interests. As I thought about this post I realized I have accomplished several of the items these lists promote. Imagine how satisfying it is to not worry about including or excluding these:
Normal Bucket List: Some of The Things Already Checked off:
1. Own an RV and travel around the country.
2. Own a weekend cabin in the woods while the kids were young.
3. Take a river cruise in Europe.
4. Visit Tuscany.
5. Become part owner of a radio station (in Hawaii, no less)
6. Become certified in Scuba Diving
7. Downhill and cross-country ski
8. Visit a nude beach ( in Hawaii and Oregon. Luckily nearly everyone was dressed, including me!)
My Don't Care Bucket List:
1) Skydiving/bungee jumping. Jumping out of a perfectly good plane or off an entirely serviceable bridge? At my age I already cheat death every day. Why mess with a good thing.
2) Riding the biggest fastest roller coasters. Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland is already my stomach's limit. I can get sick all on my own, if I want.
3) Seeing Machu Picchu. Gorgeous? Spectacular? Yes. Very far away, very expensive, very high up, usually very crowded? Yes.
4) Going on an African Safari. Leave the animals alone or contribute all that money to protecting them from poachers and environmental destruction.
5) Running in the Boston or NYC Marathon. When I was on the track team in high school I'd run 400 meters and throw up. I doubt things would be any different 55 years later.
It occurs to me what a "first world" problem a bucket list is. Billions of my fellow human beings worry about clean food and water, physical violence, poor (or non-existent) access to health care.....real things that make a dream list of trips and activities seem self-indulgent. Does that mean I should give into guilt and have no dreams of things I'd like to accomplish? No, I see no benefit in apologizing for the lucky circumstances of my birth and upbringing.
I'd still like to take a cruise to the South Pacific, visit New Zealand, and finally get good enough on the guitar so I don't sound like a sick cat.
At the same time, I see no reason to turn a blind eye to what others must endure. Frequently, I have written about the need for kindness and giving back. These aren't really bucket list-worthy concerns, but more an attempt to focus on what any of us can accomplish to make things better.
Some ideas for a non-typical bucket list to consider:
1) Support a child through an organization like Children International. Betty and I sponsor a boy in the Philippines and a girl in Zambia. Getting letters from them and watching them grow into young men and women is rewarding. We can't save lots of kids, but maybe help two.
2) Become a registered organ donor. What could be easier and at no cost or hardship to you. Trust me, you will never notice a piece is missing.
3) Mentor a younger person. I am involved with Junior Achievement, but there are all sorts of ways to help a younger generation. Isn't our responsibility to pass on what we know?
4) Protect the environment any way you can. Recycling is obvious, even if it appears to be less viable financially to some cities and towns. Avoid excess packaging, cut back on food you throw away, consider one car.
5) Learn a new skill. It doesn't really matter what it is: playing chess, taking better photos, learning to play the piano, speaking Spanish, taking online courses in something you know little about.....anything to keep your brain active. Stagnation is the enemy of a satisfying retirement.
OK, your turn:
- What is on your bucket list?
- What have you already accomplished you feel good about?
- What do you no longer care enough about to keep on your list?
- What can you add, today, that you'd like to work toward?