Bucket List

The other day I was brainstorming more ideas for my List of Things to Try and I figured the best place to find a whole lot of stuff I would never want to do would be on someone else’s Bucket List. And guess what? I was right! This website had so many reminders of stuff I hate that I added more than a dozen items to my list. Some suggestions will never go on my list because they are just plain ridiculous: A marathon? I can’t even. Scuba diving? Hello! And paragliding? With my vertigo? That’ll never be me, don’t you ever think it.

But it got me wondering – where did the phrase “bucket list” come from? What does it even mean? And why is it so popular? This article cleared a few things up. Apparently the term comes from the phrase “kick the bucket” and although there are a few instances of its use before the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman 2007 film, it seems that the movie really was what brought the phrase into the spotlight. Nowadays it seems everyone’s got a bucket list.


I actually made my own bucket list a few years ago: 1. Go to India, 2. Go to Africa, 3. Audition for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That’s it. Three items. I’m not big on making very specific goals because I’m realistic – like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I’ve experienced enough sudden turns or bumps in the road to know I can’t map out my life and expect it to go exactly my way. I prefer to enjoy the life I have right where I am rather than spend excess energy wishing for more.

But then again, as Captain Sensible said, “You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how’re you gonna have a dream come true?” Wise words. No wonder they call him Sensible.

Captain Sensible

I started thinking about all the self-actualization books out there which I usually dismiss as complete hooey. Have I been too quick to judge? Is it unwise of me to ignore the power of articulating my hopes and dreams to make them actually happen?


Maybe there really is something to dream actualization. After all, aren’t I always cold? And haven’t I wished for a Snuggie of my own to keep me warm? Haven’t I dropped subtle hints every year at Christmas time only to be ignored? When I just sat back and waited to get what I wanted, I was left cold and disappointed every year. This time I decided to actualize my dream. First I articulated my wish by telling my husband I wanted a Snuggie for Christmas. Then I made it happen by believing I would get it and then buying it for myself. See, it worked! And now I have found true happiness. I love my Hello Kitty Snuggie.


Just in case it’s possible for me to find similar success in other areas of my life, I decided to spend some time this week really thinking about my bucket list. What do I want to experience before I die? What have I always secretly hoped for? There are some things I really want to happen that are dependent upon others’ choices and since I can’t control those, they’re not going on my list. There are some things that might be nice to try some time but if I never got around to them that would be fine with me, so I’m leaving those off as well. Even though I tried to make a long, exciting list, I was only able to expand my original bucket list from three items to fourteen. I’m not going to share them here because some of them are on my list for this blog and I don’t want any spoilers and because my private hopes and dreams are none of your beeswax.

Out of the fourteen (with some overlap), five items are about places I want to visit, six involve learning a new skill, five are things I think will be worthwhile to do in the future when I have more free time, six are musical, and two are about food. None involve extreme sports.

And if I die before I’m able to do anything on the list, I won’t feel shortchanged. I’ve gotten to see and experience a lot in my life and many of the most memorable weren’t really planned. I just got lucky. So while it was interesting to take some time this week to think about what it is I really want from my life, I learned that what I have right here and now is pretty great. Anything more is just a drop in the bucket.


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