Kick the bucket-list

desert ship_medThe concept of making a to-do list of amazing experiences and must-see places has become something of a cliche in recent years. There was even a movie called The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, although I’ve not seen it (it’s not on my list).

If you’re not climbing the Matterhorn for charity dressed as a penguin, or piloting your own fantastical steam-punk ship/house to the Burning Man festival, you’re not really thinking big enough, man. Run an ultra-marathon across the desert, take ayahuasca with an Amazon shaman, or unicycle to the South Pole to raise awareness for world albino-hamster day. But don’t just sit there!

From one perspective, creating such a list makes perfect sense. Having great goals and a desire to see some of our incredible world is a worthy aim. But dive a little deeper and we find ourselves in slightly muddier waters.

I think my concerns are threefold. Firstly, people are often adopting the same ideas and goals as everyone else, either trying to copy the lifestyles and experiences of the rich and famous, or just jumping on bandwagons. We end up chasing cliches, where everybody’s bucket lists start to sound awfully similar.

Secondly, the very creation of such lists puts your life into a forward-gazing type of wishful thinking mode. ‘My life will be so amazing once I’ve done x, y & z.’ One could relegate the act of living day to day as a kind of ‘waiting for good-oh!’ (with apologies to S.Beckett).

Thirdly all that striving, hoping and wanting cool experiences, just adds to the existing dolphin_medpressures to have that toned gym-body, great career and dream partner that the magazine world have been selling us for the last few decades.

‘You cannot have your cake and eat it’ seems to most kids like a very peculiar saying. Why would anyone want a cake that cannot be eaten? But I think there is a nugget of wisdom in that cake. Or maybe it’s a walnut, hard to tell. In lusting after an amazing future full of adventures, we relegate the here and now to a time-filling, clock-watching, zombie-like existence. Instead of the ‘power of now’, we live with the ‘promise of then’.

Even our weekends can become a competition, where we feel the need to cram in as much cultural, sporting or culinary activity as possible so as to announce proudly at the water-cooler on a Monday “Yah, the weekend was amazeballs.” (I hate that expression..)

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone” Blaise Pascal

Is there any way to escape this conundrum? How do we balance the desire to have a good life with the aim of avoiding these pitfalls? I believe the answer could be summed up in two words chocolate cake. No, sorry, that just drifted into my head for some reason. No, the two words are: mindset and authenticity.

surreal theatre_medWith the right mindset, we can see the value in the world on our doorstep and have no urgent need to go rushing off to party with a hip ukulele-techno DJ at a Venezuelan yak festival, or base-jumping with neo-pagan anarchist film-makers after a night of avant-garde theatre in down-town Tokyo.

We can perhaps learn to value the here and now and the people, places and simple things around us.

Maybe we can try, as William Blake so eloquently put it:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.”

Authenticity means living in a way that is true to our nature, meaningful and does not simply leave us always wanting more, more, more. It’s living according to your inner values and true needs, not being told what to want, think or do.

To live with a healthy mindset and authenticity are lofty goals in themselves. But even if we cannot fully achieve them we can at least keep them in mind when the media bombards us with images of the lifestyles of the rich and fabulous.

You may have heard some folks in the media discussing the concept of a ‘fuck-it list’ more recently. It seems to be a newer twist where one learns to say fuck-it to anything that holds us back or weighs us down with unnecessary pressures, desires and expectations.

Maybe it’s time to put the bucket list on the fuck-it list?

Right, I’m off to eat some yummy (vegan) chocolate brownies left over from my birthday. I will say fuck-it to having a flat stomach. Life is too short for all those endless crunches and there are waaay too many nice cakes to be sampled.

Do you have a bucket list? Or a fuck-it list? Go on, spill the beans in the comments section.

© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.
 
Picture credits: Steampunk house/ship – collectorsweekly.com
Dolphins – grayline.com

 
 

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Kick the bucket-list

  1. Love the William Blake quote…I think I may need to plaster that in my office cube just to give me inspiration on a regular basis. I have a half assed bucket list….nothing formal or written down. People find it easier to relate when I say ‘oh that’s on my bucket list’, and not I do this because I enjoy it then they might think I’m crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to say I find all this ‘how to live your life’ stuff a bit baffling? I suppose it it depends in part on our genes/personality, and I’m lucky in that I don’t get too low (or too high) with myself, but people do seem to have got more “me, me, me” in their outlook? It’s something they’ve been ‘sold’ and I don’t think it’s healthy, it makes people feel inadequate.

    I’m naturally outward looking, with interests in lots of things, so I don’t really spend much time thinking ‘introspectively’ about ME. Perhaps that’s why I don’t have a ‘before I kick the bucket’ list.

    Like

    • Yes, it was exactly my point to examine how the endless pursuit of ‘extraordinary life experiences’ can make people feel bad. It might be amazing to do all sorts of exciting things, but it shouldn’t be a condition required to have a meaningful and happy life. There are millions of folks in the world glad to have a roof, bed, clean water and a bowl of rice. The western lifestyles and adventures obsession can at times seem a little obscene.

      Like

      • I’m making a more general point about how people are becoming obsessed as to how they might realise a more “meaningful and happy life”. It’s all just about manipulating our emotions to sell us products and ideas.

        Like

      • I think that’s a large part of it. I suppose people today have (in the wealthier more ‘developed’ world) more free time and more cash to spend chasing ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. Not to mention inner peace, a washboard stomach and the perfect work/life balance. All grist to the capitalist mill.

        Like

  3. I love having a bucket list! I enjoy adding new things and crossing shit off, which is weird because I’m not a list maker at all. But i’m also not stressed if I don’t cross something off within a certain time frame or succumb to the pressures of living by it. It’s just fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t say I have an actual bucket list, but I do have a number of things that I’ve already done that rate as “that’s one for the bucket list” items in hindsight. My potential items are only a vague wishlist, if they don’t happen no big deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed this post Jason and I agree wholeheartedly with you that we would all benefit from living in the “today” and appreciating all that today has to offer us and what we can make of it, rather than striving wishfully for what we are led to believe we are entitled to have or do, and in the meantime feeling like failures or inadequate or not quite good enough compared to our peers or the rich and uselessly famous. Please may I re-blog this post as the thinking in it reflects my own exactly? Will wait for your OK or otherwise before doing that. Best regards, Suzy Barker

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s