I love making lists. I could not manage without them. I have lists for shopping and errands, bills to be paid and calendar events. They are strewn all about my home, taking up space on the kitchen table and my desk, hanging askew on the refrigerator, and resting on my nightstand. The house is awash with hurried scribbles on napkins and on used envelopes. Others are neatly hand printed or typed on crisp paper. Some are stored electronically in my laptop. I love the sense of completion when a list is accomplished, and have even been known to write something down after I have accomplished it, just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. I don’t know if this list making behavior was learned or passed on to me genetically. I do know that my mother loves lists, as did her mother before her. Call it a family tradition.
So, it should be no surprise that some months ago I was suddenly inspired to create a “bucket list” – a concrete list of my hopes and dreams that I would aspire to complete before I left this world for the one thereafter. I attacked the endeavor with a zeal that most people reserve for writing their wedding vows. I researched ideas on the internet and had lengthy talks with my long-suffering husband regarding my life vision. In other words, I obsessed. Finally, I had a list I could be proud of: more than 50 life events, both trivial and fantastical, that I simply MUST experience. I tucked the list away in my personal files so that I could find it easily and prevent it from becoming lost. That accomplished, I immediately forgot it existed.
Until yesterday. I was digging through my overly stuffed filing cabinet, when it fell into my hands. I read it carefully. “Become 100% debt free.” “Visit Stonehenge.” “Write a book.” These were fairly straight forward life goals, and certainly achievable. Further reading, however, revealed these gems: “Learn to play the harmonica and perform as a street musician.” “Look for the Loch Ness Monster.” “Learn to play ping pong really well.”
Let’s. Be. Real. I started to laugh, and could not stop for several long minutes. I don’t possess any remarkable musical talent that would translate to any proficiency as a street performer. Simply singing “Happy Birthday” represents a vocal challenge for my voice range. As a child I tried for years to learn to play the saxophone. My visiting grandmother woke from her afternoon nap and mistook the noise for an injured animal. Locate the Loch Ness Monster? I can’t find my car keys most days. I’m fairly certain I won’t be tracking down any mythical beasts. Don’t ask me why I wanted to excel at ping pong – and shouldn’t I be referring to it as “table tennis” if I want to be taken seriously by the other ping pong pros?
It occurs to me now that maybe my life isn’t supposed to a series of goals, neatly organized and checked off once completed. The best moments in my life have happened organically and spontaneously. I’ve walked down the beach on a starry night, holding hands with the love of my life, and heard the music of the waves splashing all around us. I was thrown from a galloping horse and then climbed back in the saddle again. There were days I skipped making dinner so I could make mud pies with my kids instead. Small moments, defining moments. I treasure them all, and thousands more just like them. So, I’m kicking the bucket – the bucket list that is. (I’m keeping all my other lists, though. Let’s not get crazy here.) I’m not worried. I’m not giving up or throwing away my dreams. But I am confident that the best parts of my life are still to come, whether I plan for them or not.