The expression “bucket list” came into wide use after the release of the movie Bucket List in December 2007. It derives from kick the bucket (to die) plus list, hence a list of things to do before we die. Although the prospect of a bucket list may seem morbid, there are sound reasons to craft a list — by any other name — of our aspirations. Doing so requires us to focus our attention; determine if we’re maximizing our satisfaction; and identify ways of creating new memories. Ideally we protect against a future lament “If only I’d …”
It would be fascinating to have devised a list in each decade of our lives, starting in our 20s, to review now. For example, I thought skydiving would be thrilling, and it would have appeared on all my lists — except this one in my 60s. I’m not afraid to do it; skydiving has become safer, more common. In fact, I could have bought a Groupon to skydive in Phoenix last winter. But I’m not disappointed to forgo the experience of parachuting from an airplane. The window of interest closes on some dreams as we age and change. What’s important is to live without regret, to act on our foremost aspirations.
In 2013 Glen remembered I longed to visit the Badlands in my home province of Alberta, so we added two days to a trip to the Rocky Mountains for a wedding, to check that one off my unwritten list. The hoodoos moved me to feel I’d discovered my spiritual home — in an abstract sense as I wouldn’t want to live in Drumheller.
In the past, some items on our lists may have been fanciful. Riding a camel at the Giza Pyramids once struck me as a compelling diversion. At this stage, however, we might want to conceive our goals in the realm of the probable. A friend recently challenged me to make a list but, because I find it difficult to devise one that isn’t simply travel related, I wrote two. I omit any wishes pertaining to my family and friends, other than to note I always love getting together with our children and grandchildren who live 2100 miles away. And I’d like to dine at famed Vij’s restaurant with our friends who inspired this post.
- Not having seen my favourite singer Ella Fitzgerald live, I hope one evening, in a decent seat, to watch Diana Krall perform. On her 2017-18 tour, she performed in Vancouver when I was in Phoenix and vice versa. I’d also be ecstatic to go to a concert featuring both Diana Krall and Tony Bennett singing songs by George and Ira Gershwin from a joint album released September 14, 2018 on the occasion of Bennett’s 92nd birthday.
- Attend an event featuring Rohinton Mistry whose novel A Fine Balance (1995) haunts me to this day. Immersing readers in an unnamed city in India, Mistry arouses all our senses in his beautifully written, tragic tale that follows the lives of four characters from diverse backgrounds during the Emergency of 1975-77. Even though it’s heart-rending, the story offers compassion, humour, unlikely friendships, even hope in the face of despair.
- Take a spectacular photo, worthy of enlarging and framing — to know I’ve improved my photographic eye and technical skills.
- Visit Newfoundland so I will have walked the ground in all ten provinces.
- Revisit Washington DC (last there in 1988) to tour the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (1993), the Newseum (2008), and the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016).
- Take a Northern European cruise sailing to St. Petersburg. Why? Because reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky at age 20 sealed my preference for literary fiction. My parents raved about their trip to Stockholm in the ’70s and, decades later, I admire Scandinavian TV series. And I’ve never been. Cruising is convenient for seeing several cities on one excursion.
- Marvel at the Aurora Borealis for a second time; the first occurred in 1963 late on a summer’s eve in Edmonton. Perhaps realizing this one will enable me to capture the shot of wish #3!
Any list is inconsequential if we fail to reconcile it: mark actions completed, delete items no longer relevant, set different aspirations. I give myself three years to fulfill my two lists — though Rohinton Mistry must come to my aid by publishing a new novel.
Please add your opinion about lists. Or, if you accept their value, devise or update yours and share items in the comments below. •