I’ve been thinking about George H.W. Bush and how he skydived (skydove?) at the age of 92. Which brought the phrase “bucket list” to mind. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it comes from “kick the bucket,” the slang idiom for dying, and means the things you want to do before you die. I think it was coined as the title of a movie, and there have been other movies on the same theme. But come to think of it, have you ever actually met a real person who made a real bucket list? I haven’t, either (though there are always television reports about such people). And I think I know why: for most of us, by the time we are old enough to think about doing something before the literal “deadline” we’ll probably be too tired to do much of anything. And until then we’re too busy doing things in our regular lives to stop and dream up things we don’t ordinarily do.
But, what about making a bucket list of things you want to be? Things that would be possible without any personal effort, just like magic? Wouldn’t that be nice? For example, I’ll start by saying I am tired of being short. I have been short all my life, so now I want to be tall. It would be nice to be tall. If I were tall, I could reach the top shelf of my pantry, which would mean that I would not keep buying cans of baked beans because I did not see the ones hiding up there on the top shelf. And if I were tall I would be able to wear a belted wraparound coat without looking like a height-challenged bear. I could be a model in my next life. I could see the stage over the head of the lady with the cowboy hat who always sits in front of me at the theater.
Another item on my bucket list of what I would like to be is a Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, so I could endow libraries, and still buy those shoes with the red soles which sell for a thousand dollars per shoe. If I were a Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, I would indulge my inner philanthropist, and write a book about how great wealth brings with it great responsibility, which would be a bestseller and bring me more great wealth.
There are also certain “bucket list” items that, without any stress or strain on my part, I would like to have. They could be big things, like patience, or the ability to play the violin. Or they could be small things, like an inner leisure-meter which would tell me when I have wasted enough time; a fast metabolism, so I could eat ice cream every night and burn it before it settles on my bottom; high arches instead of flat feet.
While I’m busy making my bucket list, I think I am going to also make a…let’s call it a “chuck-it list” of things I would like to get rid of, throw out of my life. First on the list which I would say “chuck it” to is fear. Fear of getting lost, of flying, of dying. I would say “chuck it” to my habit of going along to get along. I would say “chuck it” to worry (but not to stress, because stress can sometimes spice up life). Those are the big things. The little things? I say “chuck it” to restaurant servers who call me and my fellow diners “guys,” and anyone who answers “thank you” with “no problem.” I would also say “chuck it” to doctor’s offices that keep you waiting for hours, and robo-calls, and telephone solicitors who call and ask for me by my first name because they think I am stupid enough to think we know each other. And $4 cups of coffee.
What does your bucket list look like? And your “chuck it” list? Write and tell me. Right now I’ve got to go — I’m conferring knighthoods in my own personal kingdom this afternoon.