The Bucket List Trap

The modern dilemma of seeing our life choices as consumer choices ties us to exchanging our time for money with which to buy experiences, for which we don’t have enough time!

And the Bucket List is like a shopping list for life experiences. The to-do list with an ominous and not negotiable deadline.

I don’t know about you, but when I make a list it bugs me till I can get stuff crossed off. Or else I think that once it’s on the list I can stop trying to remember it. Sometimes I find a list of Important Stuff written on the back of an envelope, none of which has been done, and none of which matters any more.

This doesn’t seem like a great attitude to bring to Things I Really Really Want To Experience In Life.

But the Bucket List idea does ask of me just what experiences matter to me, and what I’m actively doing to make them happen. Are they experiences I’ve already had and would like more of? Or are they experiences I’ve been ‘sold’ on by savvy advertising? Or would pretty much anything that makes me feel more alive do the trick?

Sitting down with pen and paper, writing a list, can be very therapeutic. Cross off the list anything where the bragging rights are more important than the activity itself. Stuff that you would do even if no-one else ever knew about it – that’s the right stuff!!

And don’t even think of dragging out that old chestnut “But I don’t have the time” – you have nothing but time until you die. What you do with it is your choice. Facebook and TV can kid us into thinking we’re experiencing a rich and varied life, but it’s only precious time swirling down the plughole.

Once the basics of food and shelter have been taken care of (which really shouldn’t demand 40 hours every week), any excess goes into buying what is effectively a more comfortable or more elaborate life-support system.

“Our crude civilisation engenders a multitude of wants… Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief.” ~ John Muir, Kindred and Related Spirits

By deliberately exposing ourselves to novel situations that challenge and stretch us, we can tap into sources of creativity that would otherwise be inaccessible to us.

In an elegant exchange, the experience will ask of you in proportion to what it gives you.

You can go for the “Slow Food” version of the Bucket List and really immerse yourself in an authentic experience that you may never want to leave. Or you can do the “Fast Food” version where you rush from one fleeting, superficial, “tick-the-box” activity to the next one on the list. And that’s ok too, life is not a one-size-fits-all.

Whatever makes your heart smile, that is what you should begin. And then take a step every day to breathe life into it, to make it real for you. Don’t let it get away.

Your dreams are wingy, flighty things. Put feet on them!


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Photo credit:  Colleen Parker / Tuscany

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