Have you ever Googled “bucket list”? According to Google, about 104,000,000 results are available to you: definitions of, examples of, inspirational stories of — whatever your heart desires when it comes to bucket lists, you can find it on the Internet.
What is a “bucket list”? According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, “bucket list” is “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.” The concept has spawned an entire industry of books in the genre of “things to do before you die” (506,000,000 impressive results returned with this search through Google).
Is a handbook of ideas on how to enjoy life really necessary? Would Mary Oliver turn to a “how to” book on how to live her “one wild and precious life”? Not that lists are a bad thing in and of themselves (says someone with borderline-OCD list-making tendencies). The satisfaction gained from crossing off an item to confirm its demise or completion is satisfying indeed.
Back to bucket lists, though.
Surprisingly, this is one list I have not formally created. I have my home improvement list, my grocery list, a list of places I would like to travel, the list of digital photo albums I still have yet to make, and so forth. I do not have a bucket list of life, though.
Recently, I experienced a medical complication that caught me off-guard. I felt as if I had happened to lean over as the bullet went whizzing by, and then stood up initially oblivious that a gun had been fired. The fact I have not had such an experience until my late 40’s has me counting my blessings; but at any age, I suspect it gives a person pause.
I spent an afternoon in the emergency room but, with gratitude, was released home for outpatient treatment. I watered my gardens, did some laundry, ran a couple errands. In other words, I went on with my life as scheduled. Every day has a question mark next to it, and there are simply some days when that question mark seems to be written in pen more than pencil.
As I watered my gardens, deadheading some flowers, yanking some weeds that were done flowering and no longer passable as cottage garden guests, a bumblebee stung me. I apparently disturbed it as it was collecting pollen from my past-their-prime flowering weeds. I brushed off the poor thing, and it shakily flew off to continue its work. It was merely reacting to a threat, I felt no ill will. No point in harming it further. The small swelling on my arm would fade soon enough. And I went on with my work, as well.
Puttering in the garden, examining the world at dirt-level, is quite therapeutic. The mind can wander as it takes in the delicate details of Nature’s work, formed or assisted by (wo)man’s hands here and there.
Spending some time that evening in the garden, I reflected upon my life until now. I began drafting this post and then happened to read Kathy’s post on Lake Superior Spirit that posed the question: what would you do if you knew you only had 30 days left to live? Put another way, what would you put on your bucket list?
Whether it be 30 days or 30 years, go ahead and do the things you have dreamed of doing — travel to exotic locales, bungee jump or skydive (while I watch you from below!), splurge on something that gives you pleasure, pay it forward in a meaningful way. Make a list if that is your style, but leave some space between the lines. The spaces are always there, even if your bucket list changes over time, and even when the page ends before your list is complete. Within those bucket list items — before, after and in between each line item — life happens. Experiences are wonderful, adventures are memorable, but the real guts of life are contained in the moments. Moments happen; they are not something one reserves, creates, or purchases.
With a pen in hand, gleefully striking off one item and looking to the next one, don’t forget to pause in between, and take some time to stop and smell the roses — even if a bumblebee happens to take offense. Simply nod and step aside, begging its pardon, and go on your separate ways, living and enjoying the moments each day holds.
Ciao! ~ Kat