Is it Time for a Bucket List?
by Cheryl L. Correia
In the 2007 movie “The Bucket List,” Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman find themselves sharing a hospital room and questioning their lives’ accomplishments. Faced with the disappointments of the past and the little remaining time that life will afford them, they each decide to create a “bucket list” of things they would like to experience before they die (that is, “kick the bucket”).
I have never considered composing a bucket list. Like many people, I live my life one day at a time. On a daily basis, I think about what I need to get done and set short-term goals to accomplish them. Setting goals is useful. They build our self-confidence, and motivate us to set our sights on the end result—the reward of feeling successful. Goals are not always easy to achieve. Some goals will be met effortlessly while others may be incredibly difficult. As we strive to reach our goals we may face distractions and unavoidable hardships, but we persevere until the challenge is conquered.
Focused as I was on the day-to-day, I hadn’t taken the time to think about my goals for the longer term, about what I might want to accomplish before I died, until a friend of mine totally blindsided me with a video of her recent skydiving adventure. I was flabbergasted! I finally inquired why she wanted to jump out of a plane in mid-flight. Her response was, “It’s on my bucket list.” I viewed the video of her exhilarating experience, and I found myself brimming with an overwhelming feeling of joy. I was so moved that I decided that whenever I felt sad I would view her video. It was that uplifting. And it led me to reflect on what I really wanted to do before I kicked the bucket. With great enthusiasm, I began to contemplate what sort of experiences I really aspired to achieve. And I came up with—nothing!
Did I want to travel the world, maybe to exotic places, and meet interesting people? Perhaps visit historical places to greater appreciate the struggles and achievements of people past? Did I want to skydive, bungee jump, parasail, scuba dive, or participate in extreme dining in the sky? My response to all was a definite no.
I came to the conclusion that a bucket list doesn’t have to be dangerous or so exhilarating that it makes the heart race. It can be as simple as having dinner with someone you love. Taking walks on a spring evening. Bicycling on a warm summer afternoon or raking leaves on a brisk fall day. On the other hand, it could be spending time with family and friends during the holidays. In essence, a bucket list should contain those things that make us happy. It could be a list of outrageous or simple things. If spending time with a significant other is what makes your day, then so be it. If jumping out of a plane is your cup of tea, by all means do it. In the end, the best time to jump out of a plane is when you’re already happy.
There are many books on the topic including but not limited to: The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small by Kath Stathers; Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places by National Geographic; 329 Bucket List Ideas to Try Before You Die by Develop Good Habits; as well as Bucket List Adventures: 10 Incredible Journeys to Experience Before You Die by Annette White.
Photo credits by: The Bucket by John Wells/Texas (living off the grid) and developgoodhabits.com.
Cheryl Correia is an educator at a New Jersey elementary school. She received a BA in Education from Georgian Court College and is certified to teach English as a Second Language. She has been happily married for over forty years and enjoys cooking, yoga, listening to country music, reading, and writing. Because she loves to express personal experiences with a touch of “funny” through written language, she is now exploring freelance writing and is pleased to have found a connection with Silver Sage Magazine.