Lately, I have come across a thing that seems to be the newest fad for people who are about to celebrate their 70th birthday: At age 70, do 70 new things that you always wanted to do but never did. It sounds like fun, but I’m not sure about how brilliant the idea really is. After all, doing 70 new things within a year might end up being kind of stressful. Besides … why wait that long? And also, why not simply do new things even after you have celebrated your 71st birthday?!
How do you go about making a bucket list? Well, pick a pen and a sheet of letter-size paper – at least one. Because, indeed, it will fill pretty quickly once you have started, believe me. Begin with all the things that you have dreamed of doing in your life. It can be farfetched things too – maybe you will never be able to do them. Or maybe they will fall into your lap. You never know. Write them down anyway. And keep them in sight. Then start doing the easiest of them and go from there.
Looking back, I always seem to have had a bucket list though I only learned over here that you call it such a thing. I wanted to visit family on the East coast at age 15 all on my own – and I did, saving up every penny I could earn by working in a library or received by way of pocket-money. I knew I wanted to pick up my driver’s license on my 18th birthday when I was of the tender age of nine. I knew I wanted to sing a duet from Mozart’s “Magic Flute” one day, and I did at age 18. I wrote and published my first book – poetry – at age 25, half a year after I had planned and managed to graduate from my university education. Later, I had dreams about projects as a journalist, and I realized every single one of them. I planned on trying as many food items as I could – I’m still having quite a few on my bucket list, and I’m not even talking about the dishes you can prepare from them. Some of you already know about my reading project – all through the fiction author alphabet of the Steilacoom library (I’m reaching the letter F soon). I have a list of places to see here in Washington State; it’s hanging in my kitchen pantry where I can see it every time I open its door. I have a list of books I want to write.
Of course, there are things you cannot really plan. I had hoped to get a specific job by the age of 30. I had hoped I would find a loving husband by the end of my 30s. I had always a silent craving to live at the end of the Oregon Trail. I always wanted to become a novelist, but what if I never came up with an idea for a novel? Dreams like these are out of one’s hand. But I had them in spite of all. And I celebrated them, pondering them, polishing them every once in a while. In the end, they all came true.
So, what if you are lying sick in your bed or cannot walk around much anymore? Or if you are too young or feel too old to realize one of your dreams? Ah, but that is the wonderful thing about bucket lists – they make your mind wander and create beautiful visions for yourself. And maybe, such a list holds still some things you can do. Right here. Right now. Watch that movie. Listen to that new piece of music. Read that book you always heard about but never held in your hands. Write down your life story. Invite that friend over. Ask that star for their autograph. Learn to paint what you always wanted to paint. Learn a new language. Build that model boat. Explore what your mind, what your dreams have to offer you.
Bucket lists are not about being a fad for a specific age. They need not be exotic. They need to be you. And maybe, by writing them, you are already a big step nearer to some of your dreams than you’d ever have imagined.