Do you have a bucket list? I do. Russ didn’t like the phrase “Bucket list” though. I think it must have felt a little crude to him, so I re-titled mine “Dream Sheet.” That suits me better too.
What kinds of things are on your list? Is it full of things you expect to accomplish? Do you go about it in an orderly fashion checking off each box and planning to check them all? Are there unattainable things in your bucket list? I have a lot of things on my list that I never expect to be able to do. For me, my list really is a dream sheet, and I kind of think that there’s not much point in dreaming small. Dreams are beautiful to think about and a large part of the point is to reach for the stars, so, some of my dreams are really big and I have absolutely no power whatsoever to effect whether some of them come to pass. That’s not to say I don’t also have goals. Most of the goals I work toward aren’t on the dream sheet. There are also small things on my list. There are tons of them and most are equally as precious to me as the spectacular ones. Big dreams tempered with small expectations seems to keep me in my happy zone.
And, I like to leave doors open. The other day I found an infant life vest (flotation device) that cost $3. I was taken with the thought that I’d like to have a boat and friends (who might have a baby) in the future. Russ saw the tags still on the counter and commented. I was really actually embarrassed to admit what I had done in front of my daughter. It was the most ridiculous leap of faith I had taken in some time. He was making silly jokes about me paying $3 for tags. I sheepishly repeated that I’d like to have friends and a boat. We do have a canoe and grandchildren. The time when we can all play with it and others will be a welcome relief. My 3-year old granddaughter wanted to look out the moonroof in a parking lot the other day. She stood on the armrest with her head and shoulders above the roof and started waving and shouting “Hey, hello there, I’m not sick!” It was adorable and crushing, funny and heartbreaking. I have to wonder what effect this time in history will have on kids as they grow up. She certainly wants boats and friends too. But, when I bought that vest, it wasn’t with the grounded idea of our canoe in a post pandemic world in mind. My dad had larger boats, when I was growing up. We always kept enough life vests on board to fit a variety of the largest number of people we might ever carry. I think it was a bit of a call back to things I’ve known in my past and would welcome back into my present.
How do you use your list? Does the thinking in the list bleed through into small purchases for things that might or might not happen? And, how often do you think about your list if it’s in your head, or look at it if it’s written? For me, the plan is to read and update my dream sheet as a New Year’s ritual. I don’t always remember. It can be 5 years between looks,
My process is kind of like this. I open up the document and start to read. My thoughts go along these lines. “Oh yeah, I did do that. That was nice.” or “Hey, I can check that one off now. That was fun.” And then “Wow, I really did do that. I didn’t think it would ever happen” and then “Hey, I want to do these other 5 things too”. So, I kind of use it like a mash up between a diary of highlights and list of hopes for the future. It can be a little like looking at old photos, remembering where you’ve been and what made you feel happy while you were there with an added exercise in feeling hopeful about the future.
I also add items retroactively while I’m editing. For instance, once I got to take a dive trip to Belize. After the dive trip I went to an eco-lodge in the forest for some hiking, and to visit some Mayan ruins. That sounds like enough for a bucket list item, but the real experience for the trip could never have been planned. That night, in the remote eco-lodge there was a gorgeous view of the mountains with a thunderstorm pushing up against the other side. The eco-lodge was minimally powered and low light. In the middle of the forest, the light pollution extremely low, so the stars above us were as bright and visible as any I’ve ever seen. You don’t usually get to see so many stars and a thunderstorm in the same sky, but there it was, a dreamy star lit night all around us and a light show above the mountains in the distance. I couldn’t have hoped for that before it happened, or even imagine that was possible. It’s on my dream sheet now though, just to make sure I remember to appreciate having had an otherworldly experience.
Bucket lists and looking forward are hard for a lot of people right now. There are so many smashed plans and uncertainties. They’re hard for me too. I was driving out to ride my bike one day recently and heard Jet Airliner on the radio. I thought “I wonder if I’ll ever get on one of those ever again?” It was a casual thought, but I suddenly started blubbering. Can you believe that? Driving and crying to a Steve Miller Band song? I’ve certainly had my share of bucket list level experiences, and I have no complaints. I may have cried over the uncertainty of my future for all kinds of layered reasons, but I am well aware of the truly desperate times some people are facing right now. So aware that it is really hard to know what is appropriate to even hope for in the future. I do appreciate the small things though, and there are a few things on my list that I can pursue right now while the world is broken. I have a lot of fears and I don’t know how I’m going to work out all the things I’ll have to find a way to manage in the near or far future, but through it all, even while the world is broken, my cup and my bucket runneth over.