Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Hip Bucket List

While recently perusing the Twitterverse, I came across a woman who posted a picture of her 14 year old-daughter's "2012 Summer Bucket List." Most of the items were what you'd expect to see from a girl that age: go on a date, kiss a boy, spend one day a week at the beach, etc. This tweeted photo really got me thinking, and has since become the inspiration for what is about to follow.

The term "bucket list" is sort of strange, when you think about it. I don't recall when/where I first heard it, but I'm thinking about a young child hearing it and thinking about it in literal terms. A list of buckets? A list written on a bucket? But no, it's a list of things to do before you "kick the bucket," a euphemism from a rather large list of euphemisms for dying. Am I the only one who thinks this is kind of morbid? Not the concept really, but the term. Alas, it's ubiquitous. Enter "bucket list" into Google and there are 35.8 million results, the very first of which is a whole website dedicated to the concept. You can create and track you very own bucket list on that site! I'm also quite certain "there's [at least one] app for that." There's even a movie about it, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I watched it. I cried a lot. Great movie. And I suspect it stirred a lot of peoples' creative bucket list juices.

Possibly one of the saddest movie ever. IMDB

Some people create one bucket list, THE bucket list, which encompasses every possible thing imaginable they'd like to accomplish in their lifetime (seems like a bit of a daunting task to me). But, like the teenager above, some people make seasonal bucket lists, or chronological bucket lists (Bucket List to accomplish before turning 30, 40, etc) and I've even seen competitive bucket lists comprised of insane/ridiculous things and who can do the most, etc. People have taken the concept and really run with it. It makes me wonder; what makes an item/event bucket list worthy? Many lists include things like sky diving, bungee jumping, swimming with dolphins, etc. Does something have to be dangerous/exciting/adrenaline packed to make the list? Would someone with a list of things such as try something new, dance in public, be vegetarian for a week, go a movie alone, be considered "boring" or "square?" I suspect a bucket list is what best fits the individual and/or situation.

This has nothing to do with a bucket list but I think it's HILARIOUS

The "seasonal" bucket list throws me a little, like the list made by the 14 year old girl. Surely, she is not expecting to kick the bucket by the end of the summer, so then isn't her list really a list of goals to accomplish, or things desired? Are lists of goals actually different from a bucket list? Perhaps they are, depending on how seriously one takes the "kicking the bucket" part of the list-making. I have goals to accomplish at work, and in the next few years, and in general. I don't think, however, some of these would make it to my bucket list. If I'm going to make a true "things I want to do before I die" list (because really, why sugar coat it?) I'd want it to really be serious. Perhaps nixing the euphemism and calling it what it is would inspire me to do all of those things. Or maybe not. And that begs the question, doesn't such a list evolve, and furthermore, if it evolves, is it truly a bucket list? A bucket list I might have made as a pre-teen or teenager would certainly look different than a list I'd make today, and surely different than a list 5 or 10 years from now. Some things might stay the same, but things would be added and removed or completed as life goes on.

For myself, things I think would take a long time to accomplish, or are things I'd have to save a lot of money for, or stuff that's difficult or somewhat dangerous would end up on my list of things to do before I die. I don't feel like "have babies, buy a house, get a promotion, plant a garden" need to be on my bucket list because they are things I'm already planning for. The idea of actually making a true bucket list is somewhat daunting and it makes me wonder, would I be setting myself up for disappointment? What happens if I'm on my deathbed and I realize I haven't done all the things on the list? I don't want to live life with too many regrets, so if I made a bucket list and didn't do every single thing on it, would I spend the last hours of my life regretting what I didn't do? I'd like to think, and hope, that I'd spend my time reminiscing the things I did do with the people I love. Maybe, then, it's better to not to make a list. Why not live life to just live life to the fullest?

Tentative Bucket List Items*
(because you might be curious by now, and if I were to make one, here are some things that might be on it)

-Write and publish a book
-Bungee jump
-Sky Dive
-Take an extended trip to Europe
-Take my kids to Hungary
-Work on the campaign for the first woman to run for President
-Be a spectator at the Olympics
-Not get too caught up in my bucket list

*These items may not be very hip. Some are contingent upon society (the female president thing, for example) and some may not seem so out of reach for others, but are a dream for me.

In any case, I think the concept can work well for people. If calling your goals a "bucket list" will better motivate you to accomplish them, then go for it! And I'd love to hear what all of you think: goals vs bucket list, what would be on yours, do you think the whole concept is crazy? Sound off in the comments. -MKM


  1. I love the walrus pic haha. I am a big fan of just living in the moment as well, but It's fun to have things to strive for, then when you do them just look back and go "wow... I really did that." I have sort of a frivolous bucket list type board on Pinterest (I know you're not a huge fan hahah) but it's fun to look back at all I've done already!)

  2. I have been making and crossing off items on a mental "Boston bucket list." Definitely not planning on dying on July 1st, just moving. But I wouldn't call the items "goals." Getting my master's degree was a goal; going to Mike's pastry was just something that I always wanted to do while in Boston. If I don't get through every single thing, I'm not going to dwell on what I didn't do: I'm not failing to accomplish my goals. I'm just purposefully and actively making a point to do things that I have wanted to do, but never gotten around to doing, in the time that I have left here. (Here being boston, not here in my mortal existence, haha.)