Ever since Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman made that wonderful movie in 2007 about two aging, terminally ill men thrown together as unlikely roommates in a hospital, the idea of the bucket list evolved and has since become a popular subject of conversation.
The concept of a bucket list allows people to bring to the forefront that which may have been in the shadows for years: the trips they always wanted to take and never did, the crazy stunts they said they’d try and never did, the famous people they want to meet, the relationships that need repairing, and so on. It is the supreme example of “getting your affairs in order,” but generally involving a whole lot more fun than finding the life insurance policy, updating the will, and buying the cemetery plot.
Why the name was given as “bucket list” has several different theories. One goes way back to the Middle Ages and relates to the practice of public hanging. One would have to stand on a bucket with a noose around their neck. When the bucket would be kicked, it was lights out. The second theory involved the idea that after death, holy water was placed in a bucket at the feet of said body. When people came to pay their condolences, they would sprinkle the holy water on the body. Not crazy about that explanation. A third thought riffs on the childhood game of kicking the ball at randomly placed buckets. If the ball hits a bucket, you are automatically kicked off the game and declared “dead.”
I rather prefer the definition that it’s a list of things you want to do NOW, rather than “someday,” since “someday” may never come. So, not having created a bucket list to this point, but rather vague thoughts and ideas, I thought perhaps I should get serious.
Here are the top four categories on most people’s bucket lists:
1. Go Somewhere Special. Well, since I first saw a National Geographic spread on the Swiss Alps when I was about 9 or 10, I thought Switzerland would be a great place to go, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Besides, I want to see THIS country first. Thus far, we’ve visited 47 of our beautiful states, and I’d kinda like to finish off the other three before something finishes me off. So hiking glorious mountains, enjoying fondues and Swiss chocolates right in the shadow of those snow-covered Alps may have to remain on hold.
2. Make a Difference. Based on my aversion to hospitals, white coats, and the like, I don’t think I’m going to find a cure for cancer any time soon, but as a Rotarian for the last 29-plus years, I like to think I have made a difference working locally, regionally, and globally to help better people’s situations. And in so doing, and donating along the line, I have helped to nearly wipe out the scourge of polio worldwide (Rotary’s biggest project goal since 1985, leaving just three remaining countries with the disease). I also am a proud member of Liz Dobson’s Army, serving the Thanksgiving community meal at Christ Church. I do all the marketing and fundraising for a first responders’ group, participate in half marathons and 5Ks for various organizations and “good causes,” and give of my time to veterans as much as I can.
3. Do Something Fun: I try to do something fun every day whether standing on my head to the amazement of local kids (“Wow, she’s old, and can still do it!); wrapping holiday “presents” for the dogs, horses, and cats in my area; dressing up in some crazy costume for a “holiday”; or just laughing at life instead of crying.
4. Grow Old with Someone You Love. I got that one aced a long time ago. I found someone I loved 43 years ago and haven’t let go of him yet. We’ve been through almost everything the marriage vows say: “sickness, health, poorer (forget richer), and we’re still together.
So maybe I do have a bucket list after all. It’s just that I’ve called it the wrong thing all these years. It’s a life pretty damn well lived. And should that trip to Switzerland ever come along or I get to sky-dive, that’ll just be frosting on the cake.
My bucket runneth over.