The phrase ‘kick the bucket’ has been around for a very long time. In fact the idiom is defined as ‘to die’ from the English (the Queen’s English) “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue” published in 1785. The phrase ‘bucket list’ first surfaced in 2006. Imagine that. For more than 200 years people were more concerned with living than being preoccupied with dying – and they lived shorter lives in the 1700 and 1800s. These days I hear grammar school children talk about having bucket lists. Why are they so focused on dying? They haven’t got a driver’s license or graduated from high school, let alone college. They still have 80 or more years ahead of them.
I don’t have a bucket list. Never have had one. Don’t believe in them. It’s not that I believe I’m immortal. There’s definitely an expiration date. I just don’t use that unknown date as part of my timeline for a project end date. Any project of any kind.
What I’ve noticed is that people put items on their bucket list such as a particular vacation, visiting a certain place like Vegas or the Big Easy. Some put material possessions on the list, perhaps the car or house of their ‘dreams’. Some Bucket Lists reflect wishful thinking, dreams, a fantasy life with no realistic plan to achieve or obtain what’s on their list and people say “Someday, I will…” Well,
“Someday is Not a Day of the Week”
I know of a couple who wanted to buy a house. They obtained a real estate agent and went out looking at houses they wanted to buy. They knew what they wanted. However, they didn’t have the money to buy what they wanted. They could afford a house, but they didn’t like the ones in their price range and expected to buy one outside their range since they were ‘very nice people’ and surely a seller would take a loss of $100 grand or more so that they could have a house they liked. Apparently buying a house was an item on their Bucket List, since they felt it was more important to spend $400/week on Starbucks coffee instead of being able to pay the mortgage they would need.
I believe in To Do Lists. I have multiple Lists. One is a list of everything I need to accomplish That Day: check incoming mail, send out outgoing mail, eat right, exercise, etc. Another is used for the Week: buy groceries, pay bills, set appointments, take care of business matters, clean, do laundry, etc. There’s also the Grocery List, the Errand List of what I need to buy (food) or do (get to the bank, put gas in the car). Then there’s also the Running List of To Do Items. The last is an all-inclusive list of Everything Else. If it’s important, then it belongs on a To Do List of Some Kind and not a Bucket List.
Get a college degree
Have a career
Buy a house
Visit the Grand Canyon
Done. Done. Done. Done. Because they were on my To Do List, not a Bucket List. I made plans. I got my financing together. I searched and interviewed for jobs. I searched and found a house. I made plans and went to Arizona to see ‘The Big Hole’ as the locals call it. And even when I found my first house, I made a List of What I Wanted To Do To Make the Property Mine. Seriously. I had a list that was one and a half notebook pages long written before I even closed on the property or moved in. Did I get everything done in the first year? Heck no. That would have been wishful thinking with in some other reality. Did I get it all accomplished in the second year? Again, no. Because life has a way of throwing curve balls and the AC system died and the ductwork in the crawl space needed to be insulated. The List got re-prioritized. Then there were the unexpected gale storms that blew through and added to The List and reshuffled it again (replace gutters) and again (replace 6 foot sliding glass door) and again (replace attic fan). I hadn’t expected the wind to rip the outer casing of the fan off leaving me with a hole in my roof for the rain and animals to get in.
I stripped wallpaper, re-taped sheet rock, spackled, repaired sheet rock, painted, replaced floors, changed lighting fixtures, landscaped all over, adding gardens and trees and bushes and flowers, raised the shed and even got the hot tub to soothe all the aching muscles…When I sold that house and was packing I came across The List still tacked to the bulletin board, paper slightly yellowed and ink beginning to fade. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. Done. In the end, there was only one item on The List that had been left undone. Nothing on The List was a fantasy item requiring a major remodel which I couldn’t do by myself and on a single salary (adding an all-season room, a fireplace).
Learn to ski – downhill and cross-country Done.
Buy a brand new, never used car Done
See Key West where all the Jimmy Buffett songs are true Done
Sail around the Caribbean Done
Change careers Done (only once by choice…)
See the Southern Cross Done
Because Bucket Lists are for someday, maybe. For a fairy tale life which I do not live. For having hopes and dreams which help us move forward from day-to-day and keep us thinking positive. The fantasy life we literally dream of when we go to sleep at night. To Do Lists are for achieving what is realistically possible and the sense of fulfillment, accomplishment, pride in oneself of those accomplishments, regardless of size.
Kick the Bucket List and go live your life. If it’s important to you, then find a way to do it. Stop worrying about the expiration date. My To Do List extends way beyond mine. I’m too busy living to worry about any buckets.