The Bucket List or How to Set Yourself Up for a Lifetime of Disappointment
First, let me point out that I know this whole “Bucket List” concept is now part of the lexicon thanks to a 2007 Rob Reiner work that I enjoyed but refuse to watch anymore because I always end up a blubbering mess at the end. Having confirmed long ago that I am allergic to my own tears, and not enjoying the sensation of my eyes swelling shut or having to breathe through my mouth for an hour, I have forgone the viewing of this movie permanently. However, I do recommend it if you have not seen it, you enjoy a tear-jerking “dramedy” (comedy-drama) and you can tolerate your own bodily fluids better than I.
Secondly I need to admit that I too found myself often using the phrase in casual conversation as a way to emphasize really cool “stuff” I either wanted to own or to do. Because of the commercial popularity of the movie, I knew that most people would understand the reference, along with the collateral benefit of seeing me as a vital, current human being on the cutting edge of the grammatical/pop cultural knife.
And then it hit me. What is a Bucket List? Well, it’s a list. That much is simple enough to glean from the name. But much more than that, it’s a list of things I want or want to do before I DIE.
Seriously, before I die? I can’t remember a time in my life when I thought so much about what I wanted to do BEFORE I DIE. One little weeper of a flick turned this thought into a common conversational tool and a colloquialism that will probably end up in Roget’s.
Here is the first of my two burning questions: What happens if you don’t fulfill your bucket list? I imagine once you are dead it won’t matter to you, much. Who knows. But, what about all the years between now and then? All the times you relate your lists of wishes, over and over again, hammering home that there are things you are always going to want, but are never going to have?
I can’t bring myself to use the phrase any longer, but just as a reference, and because pictures make a blog more interesting, here are the items I often listed on my “bucket list”:
There are probably a couple of other items, but you get the gist of it. So what happens when I don’t ever accrue or accomplish any of these items? By having this list at all, I’ve set myself up to be eternally bereft. And that just doesn’t make sense to me.
And so, my second question: What does it mean if you DO accomplish everything on your list? This almost seems like an even poorer outcome, if you ask me. Let’s say you get everything you ever wanted. Are you done? Did you remember to add on twenty to thirty years at the end to enjoy all the stuff, or is the objective just to get it? Do you start adding stupid things onto the end of the list just to make sure you still have a raison d’etre?
Perhaps I’ve become cynical. After all, what’s wrong with a little bit of hope and longing, right? I’m sure some would argue that having lofty goals might lead to a greater striving toward attainment of the pretty, shiny things and life’s ultimate experiences. I can’t help myself, though. I get the fatalist’s view of the world. I do. Life is tragically short and it’s tough to stuff all the good stuff into just one. I think it’s the paradox that the phrase represents that bothers me the most. If I’m standing at a mixer, holding a Peach Bellini, I do not want to know what you want to get done before you die. I don’t want to think about you dying, and, by extension, the fact that I am going to die having not gotten that damned tatoo. Think of something else to say to me. Buy me another Bellini. Live in the now and cheer up, for pity’s sake. 🙂