Tuesday, July 21, 2015 | By: Cafe

What's On Your Bucket List?

The words “Bucket List” seem to be in the air these days. My husband and I watched, again, the movie by that title starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the story of two dying men trying to make the most of their last days. I was hosted on a blog a week ago for which the question was asked, “What’s on your bucket list?” Is it a new concept or one that has been around for a while?

According to Slate magazine, the phrase “to kick the bucket” dates back to 1785, when it was used in the context of dying. But it has evolved since then.

“In 2004, the term was used—perhaps for the first time?—in the context of things to do before one kicks the bucket— in the book Unfair & Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, by Patrick M. Carlisle. That work includes the sentences, “So, anyway, a Great Man, in his querulous twilight years, who doesn’t want to go gently into that blacky black night. He wants to cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge, pry the lid off his bucket list!” wrote June Thomas, a Slate culture critic.

Hence, the bucket list has become in popular culture a list to make of all the things the list maker must do before kicking the bucket, or before dying. In the movie, The Bucket List, the characters listed things like kiss a beautiful woman, skydive, see something awesome, and find the joy in your life. A lot of people might list exotic places to visit, like the Taj Mahal or Paris.


I think somehow making a bucket list gives life a purpose, a direction. Narrow living down to completing activities or visiting places that have meaning and life will have been worth living. The list maker takes satisfaction in taking control of his or her life, not letting it simply happen. By taking control of life armed with a bucket list, when death approaches there will be less regret, if any.

I think the concept is interesting. But when asked the question, “What’s on your bucket list,” I couldn’t think of any one thing or list of specific things I longed to do before I die. Maybe as a writer I should have a bucket list of things I want to write: poetry, literary fiction, a children's book. I could try to do those things, bu I'm content with the books I'm writing already.

Turns out, I’m not a bucket list person. I like structure, planning, and purpose, but I’m living my life as it comes, remaining open to whatever as much as possible. I can’t imagine knowing what is ahead, so why would I prioritize a certain path that includes specific actions or places? It feels like pressure, to me, to have to meet certain goals in order to be ready to leave this life.

But I do think it’s a fun game. So, what’s on your bucket list? Are you a bucket list maker? Please share.

10 comments:

RT Wolfe said...

I'd like to spend several months to a year working as a missionary in a third world country. Wow. It seems so much more real now that I've written it on a blog! :) Thank you for the push, Lynn!
-R.T.

Lynn said...

Thanks for commenting, Tanya. Your recent trip really resonated with you?

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of things I'd like to do before I die, but most of them are just dreams or wishes... not must haves. I would like to live in a foreign country before I die, long enough to make the leap from being a tourist to actually knowing something about the culture. Ramona

Lynn said...

Sounds heavenly, Ramona.

Susanne Matthews said...

I've been fortunate enough to actually manage to fulfill a number of items on my bucket list. My number one at the time was to someday actually write and publish a book--something I've now accomplished in spades. Another item was the Alaskan cruise I took in June. I still want to see Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Paris, Denmark, and the Caribbean, and I truly believe I have a shot at doing so. The item at the top of the list at the moment is to become a NY best selling author. That one isn't one I can control, but who knows?Ididn't think getting published would ever happen either!

Charmaine Gordon said...

My youngest son lives in Denmark with his lovely Danish wife. He says it's not what it's cracked up to be. As for me, I've accomplished so much in my 84 years including writing a bunch of books the past five years and having lunch with Anthony Hopkins, call me Tony. I do want to live to be one hundred and way more so I can teach my youngest granddaughter what she needs to learn and hopefully watch her marry and have a baby. That's my bucket list. Thanks for a wonderful post.

Lynn said...

Susanne, you definitely have done a lot. Congratulations and here's to that NY Best Selling author title. Thanks for stopping by.

Lynn said...

Charmaine, you really make me smile. Good luck with your list! You've already accomplished a lot.

Nancy Purdy said...

I am privileged to have achieved many of the items I would have placed on a bucket list. Now, my bucket list is to write about those experiences and turn them into published books, both fiction and nonfiction.

Lynn said...

That's wonderful, Nancy. Good luck with your writing!

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