I am sure I am not on my own here but I feel like I have wasted a lot of time recently. It has been a toxic combination of Covid and anxiety. Or maybe it is because I am getting older and more and more friends seem to be upturning that imaginary hourglass every chance they get, terrified as they see sand piling up at the bottom. Either way, time goes so fast, so much passes you by before you realise what has been lost. I have been ruminating on this for a few days, the time that I won’t get back, the places I haven’t been, the opportunities missed. So much to do, so little time. Am I right?
So anyway. Last week I decided to make a Bucket List of things I wanted to see and do, not necessarily before I die as that is more than slightly morbid but over the next couple of years as our freedom, motivation and spontaneity begin to return. I sat down and stared at a blank page for a while wondering what should be on my hypothetical List? I googled it, because how else do we find out anything these days? Most of the ideas were along the lines of Visit all eight wonders of the world, Dive in all major oceans and seas, Swim with pigs in the Bahamas? Who knew btw? As amazing as all these sound, reading the list is when it hit me. I don’t want a Bucket List at all. There I was wrecking my brain trying to think of things that should be on the list and not necessarily things I really want from the coming years. It’s not that I think I have seen everything or been everywhere, far from it. I have my own dreams and goals. I just dont want them to be mandatory. (Is a mandatory dream an oxymoron)? For me a bucket list wouldnt be inspiring, rather it would mock me, a relentless reminder of everything I have not yet done. An eternal unaccomplished to-do list while the meter is running. Stress.
You see when I really sat down and thought about it, the biggest thing missing over the isolation of the pandemic was the people I haven’t seen enough of. In the last year and a half I have only seen my grandparents twice. I couldn’t properly meet my best friends baby for months. I missed my brother move in to his first home. I havent been able visit a best friend living in Spain. These are the important things that you don’t get back and the things I hope for going forward. The aspirations we have, have changed so much over the last couple of years. Neither being more or less valid, simply different. Our priorities have just had to change so much as we have adjusted our realities. We are now left with a set of much more grounded and honest expectations and wishes.
The major problem with having a traditional bucket list is this, we like to fantasise about what could be and in doing so forget what is. They give us tunnel vision and do not allow for those changes that will inevitably come in life. This leaves us with not so much a Bucket List but a list of regrets. Things we didn’t achieve. What a nightmare. If you must create a list I reckon it is important to create one that is less about those extravagant, expensive or once in a life time moments. The ones that you are pretty sure are impossible and not even sure you really want anyway, and replace them with things you are not prepared to live without.
So, imagine this. You are about to kick the bucket, you’re in a hospital bed and someone has given you a pen and paper to write down the things you are so grateful for in your life. Are you likely to write about that fancy cruise you went on? Or the second house in Italy? Will you mention your expensive car or the Bungee jump you did in Dubai? Probably not. You are more likely to write about the humans you love. Parents, siblings, spouse, children maybe even grandchildren if you are really lucky. People might not necessarily write ‘have grandchildren’ on a bucket list, but maybe they should. Maybe that is the sort of thing that is going to give us lasting happiness and a high quality of life not the temporary thrills of the cliched Bucket Lists.
Life changes so quickly. We have no way of knowing what will happen from one day to the next let alone years in to the future. So lets scrap the idea of a Bucket List and be more open to spontaneity and the uncertainty of life. Spend time with the people who matter and enjoy as many of your days as you can.
What ever you decide remember that life starts now, not in the future.
Go and live it.