As Christmas approaches and a new year beckons, many people are inclined to do an audit on the past 12 months; an audit on life. There’s accounting to be done on things achieved and maybe a transferal of unfinished business to a new 2019 list. That’s fair enough. But what I personally disapprove of hugely is the existence of a ‘Bucket List’.
I believe I can justify it.
It came to my attention soon after I moved back to Ireland from India. Indians are very good at living in the present moment, in the now, whereas here I found that many people were telling me that they would love to take a holiday in India and that they would add to their Bucket List. Bucket List. I imagine there is no soul alive – whose first language is English anyway – who doesn’t know that a ‘Bucket List’ is a list of things you don’t want to do today but you do want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’; before you die.
The stark reality of that word ‘die’; when this life is over. Kaput. Never to come back again. But for me, there are much worse assumptions than that embedded in the concept. And here they are. If you have a Bucket List, it means:
You are arrogant. Yes, arrogant. You’re behaving – that is, making decisions – as if you know when you’re going to die. Do you? Of course not. And there we leave that one because it is so profoundly inane that it doesn’t deserve another whit of analysis.
Having a Bucket List connotes illusion. You’re allowing your imagination to inform you when your time will be up. Imagination has other uses but that’s not one of them.
Your thinking is more prone to finding obstacles, rather than solutions. Leave aside a trip to India for a second and check out how many times you say in your life, ‘I can’t do that’. If you rack up a goodly number of them you’re an obstacle sort of quy.
You see no way out of postponement. You have neither the money nor the time right now, you know the kids are too young, money’s a bit tight. But it is possible to reorganise priorities. There is a way out. However, that takes a shift in attitude. A big mighty effort too. And that is one of the toughest and most powerful challenges of all.
Is it possible, and especially if you’re middle-aged, is it possible that you may be prone to morbidity? In a nutshell, that you think about your own death too often? And here’s a tip on that one. You need to get out of that when there is so much to be happy about. But that’s a story for another day.
S,o there you have it: Arrogance, illusion, obstacles, postponement and maybe even morbidity. Did you ever even think that these are the thought patterns you are giving away when you use the term ‘Bucket List’?
Now, I’m sure you’ll accept that a bucket list remains a collection of goals, not achievements. A list of would-be actions written on a scrap of paper, figuratively or literally, that will not be actioned anytime soon. Of course there is an inherent, but rather limited, satisfaction in at least knowing what you would like to do. But for me that’s not enough. It’s no more than a list of New Year’s resolutions that you formulate in January and come February they have flown out the window into some kind of forgotten mid-air.
That won’t do at all. It takes a bit more than wishful thinking to make any dream come true. Look back analytically at your own achievements so far this year, big or small, and you’ll see the evidence.
So, why don’t you say goodbye to your ‘possible self’ and make your possibilities a tangible thing? In other words a reality. A shift in attitude is the starting point. Working out the obstacles of money and time and so on, they will happen only after you hack your way through that attitude that leaves you in the comfort zone of Bucket Lists. And that process for some will be like, what my late mother would have called, ‘It would be like taking a razor blade to quarry the Rocks of Bawn!’
And as for pinning a dream, or a wish, goal, an ambition around an imaginary date of when you’re going to kick the bucket. That makes no sense.
So, here’s hoping that in this joyous but reflective time of Christmas holidays that you will give up this Bucket List mullarkey and join my club – the Bin the Bucket List Club.
Bibi Baskin is a Wellness Advisor and a Motivational Speaker. She lives very happily in Cork.