I stumbled upon an article recently entitled "It's Time to Kick the Bucket List."
Apparently there's been a "national epidemic of bucket-list neurosis" of which I've been entirely (and happily and thankfully) unaware.
"Bucket lists started out as something harmless and amusing before turning into a nightmare," notes the article. "Compiling a bucket list was once the perfect way to pass the dreamy days of summer vacation. Now it’s just another form of work." — to the point, apparently, of becoming a "clinical disorder." (To be fair, these days everything can be categorized as a "clinical disorder.")
Apparently suggested bucket lists can now be found online, growing increasingly frantic: "100 places to see before you die. No, make that 1,000 places. Fifty restaurants to eat in before you die — no, 200. The Top 111 Bucket List Ideas. 329 Great Bucket List Ideas. 15,378 Top-Quality Bucket List suggestions."
But — "A bucket list is supposed to be deeply personal, the product of much internal debate and intense self-searching. It’s not supposed to be just another dumb thing you found on the Internet."
I've never had a bucket list for life. While there are many things I'd love to be able to do, see, or experience, they don't burn a hole in my heart because I haven't had a chance to cross them off a list. But maybe that's because, in general, I'm content.
The writer of the article may agree. "They [the items on the bucket list] can seem like a consolation prize for not having a satisfactory life. If you are rapidly approaching the final curtain and you still have dozens of things pending on your bucket list, it raises the question of what you were doing all that time."
All that time. You mean, all of life? What have Don and I been doing "all that time"? Well, we've:
• Raised and educated two phenomenal kids.
• Created a homestead farm.
• Created a woodcraft business.
• Created a writing career.
• Watched a lot of beautiful sunsets.
• Created a home-centered life so we could enjoy the kids, the farm, the woodcraft business, the writing career, and the sunsets.
• Found (or re-found) our faith.
• Honed skills we already had and learned many new ones.
• Helped create a wonderful neighborhood community.
In total, our accomplishments might seem modest. We haven't gone bungee-jumping in Madagascar or swum with man-eating sharks in the Seychelles. But our accomplishments are satisfying, and give us — as we approach our senior years — a feeling of contentment. I find that hard to beat.
The whole bucket-list thing is an example of wallowing in envy — everyone's trying to demonstrate their life has meaning. You might say it's a bucket of envy: "If I don't finish these things before my life is over, then my life has been meaningless."
"Bucket lists often become obsessive, expensive, painful," concludes the article. "They create the impression that life is not so much something to be lived and enjoyed as a series of onerous obligations to be checked off."
Neither Don nor I have ever parasailed over a volcano, climbed the Pyramids, or even seen Yellowstone (that's criminal — it's practically in our backyard). (Actually, Don informs he visited Yellowstone when he was a young boy.) But we've raised kids, milked cows, built furniture, and enjoyed dinners with friends. Life is pretty durned sweet as a result.
In talking this over with Don, he said he only ever had one item on his bucket list, a prayer he’s had for years: "God, let me live long enough to see our children grow up to be strong, competent adults." That prayer has been answered.
As I recently told my Dad, Don's and my married life did not unfold in a conventional way (i.e. work an office jobs for 30 years while living in the suburbs, then retire) — but it's been a helluva ride and it's not over yet.
Nope, no bucket list, but that's okay.