Bucket? Pluck it or Chuck it!

By Haven Lindsey  in  blog  on  01.24.2015
Do you have a Bucket List? Or know someone who does? You know, the concept made popular by the 2007 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The premise of the movie showcased two terminally ill men who threw caution to the wind, left their cancer treatment facility with a list of things they wanted to accomplish before they kicked the proverbial bucket.

The notion of a having a Bucket List struck a chord with many and one doesn’t have to go far to find someone who references their list. The power a movie can exert on the masses is impressive.

                                            Many decades ago Benjamin Franklin wrote,
                                       ‘A man dies at age 25 but isn’t buried until age 75’.
The notion of a Bucket List is so popular and accepted that I frequently hear my friends say, “It’s on my list”…the word bucket, now common language, is assumed. Frequently when I hear these references my mind summons’ Ben Franklin’s words. I often wonder what he would have thought of a Bucket List given his understanding that many people don’t actually live, they exist. In today’s culture we fill our space and schedules in order to stay busy – I suspect many people would feel less important if they weren’t busy (a.k.a. distracted). If he were alive today, I think Franklin may say something along the lines of, ‘a man works hard to stay busy and the result is he is too distracted to live’.

Am I anti-Bucket List? Perhaps. But not for the reasons one may think. I understand the concept and for the most part I like it. Having a Bucket List provides us with a sense of purpose and motivation. It gets us to think, to strive, to try and to become – it has the potential to transport us outside our comfort zone – the only place we learn and grow. These are all things I applaud and support. I think it’s fantastic that someone can write a list of things he or she wants to accomplish and one by one, check them off the list.

                                           Walk the Great Wall of China.
                Learn to scuba dive.
See the Aurora Borealis.

Yet, it is easy to become defined, (dare I say limited), by the very list intended to set us free. We begin to compare our list to someone else’s. Rather than staying present and enjoying the actual moment of accomplishment it is easy to fall prey to the checking it off part or adding the next big ticket item. Rather than growth resulting from the list, it often becomes a chase.  A Bucket List isn’t a competition yet it can certainly disguise itself as such and it has the potential to lend itself to toxic, self-defeating language of, ‘Once I’ve’.

Once I’ve walked along the Great Wall of China, I’ll be happyOnce I’ve learned to rock climb I’ll feel good about myselfOnce I’ve completed a triathlon, my father will be proud of me. Bucket Lists feed our need to feel worthy yet it can be short-lived; too often we create lists that leave us wanting more and position us in the repetitive, ‘Once I’ve’ soundtrack.

                                     That which doesn’t appear on most Bucket Lists is concerning.

If you are living a fear-based, anxiety-driven existence and spend two weeks trekking through Nepal because it was on your list only to return to your existence of habitual fear and anxiety, what have you actually accomplished? You’ve checked off an amazing experience yet your day-to-day quality of life hasn’t improved. If you travel to India to see the Taj Mahal and never venture beyond the comforts and safety of tour groups, 5-star hotels and gourmet food – have you actually experienced India? Would it be worth considering spending a few days volunteering with people struggling to survive poverty or visiting with young girls who were abandoned by their families because they were born female instead of male?

If we’re going to have a Bucket List, it needs to be well-balanced and kept in proper context. A list is simply a list; it doesn’t define who we are, our level of success or happiness. If a Bucket List is simply another form of distraction it does more harm than good.

                     It’s great to have a list of things we want to strive to attain for ourselves,
it’s even greater to have a list of things we want to strive to help others attain.  

Everything we need we already have and it isn’t necessary to check things off a list to feel a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps what needs to be on every Bucket List is a journey inward to unveil the protected, vulnerable place we all have within us. If we are brave enough to travel to that destination, to feel our fear and pain we can connect with our self and others on a deeper level. We will ultimately stop searching and find that our increasing need to stay distracted will diminish. It requires courage, not a list.                                        I think Ben Franklin would concur, after all he once wrote,
‘Don’t confuse motion with action’.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven

Source: New feed