Empty Your Bucket List

Common Sense Media source

For most of my life, my bucket list was something I added to vigorously, but never made much progress on. Today, I make it a priority to make sure the list remains empty - because I prioritize completing anything important enough that I might regret not having done it.

(A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket” [die], inspired by the 2007 film The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.)

In 2018, a few weeks before my wedding, one of my best friends - who was healthy and vibrant and successful by all accounts - dropped dead on a fishing trip. While my husband and I had not originally planned a honeymoon, after our guests went home I found myself packing to take Alex’s place on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Galapagos. With lots of time to think on the boat between islands, and while trying to savor every moment in her honor, it started to sink in deeper than it ever had before that I did not have forever to work through my list.

And so, when we returned from South America, I set out to complete as much of my bucket list as possible, as soon as possible. We went on a roadtrip to Ouray, Colorado, the inspiration for Galt’s Gulch in Atlas Shrugged. (I have been in many gorgeous places. Ouray is simply spectacular.) I spent a leisurely afternoon drinking all my favorites fresh from the tap at Trinity Brewing. We had dinner at French Laundry (not worth - go to Alinea instead). We went to a beach with the intention of reading books on it, only to discover reading a book on a beach is not really my thing. We enjoyed a wine flight at Caduceus Cellars in Arizona, which I’d wanted to visit ever since watching the documentary Blood Into Wine. And I ate Spaghettieis (German ice cream in the shape of realistic pasta dishes) in Germany, a treat I randomly regretted never trying during the first year I spent there.

It’s so easy to put off your bucket list as a list you’ll do one day. One day when you retire. One day when you take time off. One day when the kids are older. But… it might be too late then. If something is important to you, you deserve to make a plan to get it done (even if, in practice, it does take awhile for the logistics to fall into place).

Look through your “Someday” targets and see if there’s one or two you can flip to a current target. You might also consider adding a Target Category of “Bucket List” to make sure you don’t let too many bucket list goals languish.

As of this writing, I do have two things left on my list: spend a month in Broome, Australia (can’t go because of the travel ban) and see Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No 3 performed live (I’ve had tickets three times and life keeps thwarting my attendance). And if you told me I had a short time left to live, there are some experiences I would surely repeat … I would spend a night a week at each of Grant Achatz’s restaurants in Chicago, another night in Chicago at Elizabeth, and then savor one (who am I kidding - many) of Matt’s cocktails at 7908 in Aspen. I would spend quality time with the people I loved. I would, not unlike my normal self, drink Domaine Serene pinot noir while watching reruns of The Office. But I would not spend that time fretting that I had never been to North Korea, or written a book, or served my country.

And that’s a good place to be.