The topic of bucket lists became more popular a few years back after a movie of the same name. My first encounter with the concept was back in 1988. The magazine article did not use the term “bucket list” but challenged the reader to come up with a list of 25 things he/she hoped to experience or accomplish before dying.
It was an interesting exercise. I could rattle off the first ten items or so but then was challenged to consider what really mattered to me and what I had been putting off.
In formulating my own list, I saw first of all that I was already talking myself out of items on that list, fearing that I lacked resources or ability. One such item was publishing a book. Thankfully, I didn’t let fear make me drop that item from my list.
I also saw that, even then, I was putting things off, saying “someday” to items like travelling to Ireland or running a marathon. As I formulated the list, I was faced with all my assumptions about how someday I would have “time enough at last”.
Finally I saw that realizing some of the items on my list would require effort and commitment. A book wasn’t going to write itself. I couldn’t run a marathon without some training. I needed a little help in learning this lesson.
One of the items on my original list was seeing my beloved Redsox play the hated Yankees at Fenway Park. In looking at the Redsox schedule, I saw that the Yankees were playing at Boston in September. “Getting tickets will be impossible” I thought and abandoned the idea. I’d shared this item on my list with my wife who called her brother in Massachusetts. Sure enough he landed some tickets and a few weeks later I enjoyed the first of many games I’d see in Fenway. Lesson learned. Nothing happens if you don’t put out the effort.
Is a bucket list nothing more than an indulgence for the well-to-do? I don’t think so. We all love stories of dreamers who accomplish an impossible dream. We love our Rudys and our Rocky Balboas. One of my personal favorite is the story of Satchel Paige, perhaps the greatest pitcher ever who toiled in the Negro Leagues. At age 42, however, he was signed by the Cleveland Indians and was later named Rookie of the Year. If Rudy had a bucket list, playing football at Notre Dame was on it. Satchel Paige’s list might also very well have included pitching in the Major Leagues.
The bucket list challenges us to develop an untapped potential. It challenges us to make no assumptions about time. It challenges us to take risks. And, yes, I still have items to pursue on my own list.
Reflections: Do you have a bucket list? Why or why not?