The Urban Dictionary defines the slang term “Bucket List” as things you want to do before you die, from the term for death of “kick the bucket.”
A lady up the road from me has a small cafe (with great food) called “The Bucket List” because she always wanted to own one and her’s is quite successful. She accomplished something off her bucket list. When I was 18 and first learning to fly an airplane, my bucket list contained the wish to be the first woman airline pilot….of course that’s not going to happen now, there have been others who accomplished their bucket list to become female airline pilots while I didn’t put in the effort and the work to accomplish that.
There have always been “bucket lists” even before the word became slang, we just called it “aspirations” or “things I want to do” or “things I want to have” before I die. At the first of each new year many of us make “resolutions” or promises either to ourselves or to others about things we are going to do better next year. “I resolve to eat less fat, or quit smoking, or get more exercise”–but usually “New Year’s Resolution” has become a derisive term for a promise you don’t seriously intend to keep.
When our lives have been filled with pain and disappointment from any source, we “grieve” for the losses we have experienced. Some people even grieve over the loss of their youth as their bodies begin to age, or the loss of their beauty, or we may bemoan the losses of relationships that were not successful, even among our own families or our own households.
Though we may look to others and envy their “success” either in their careers, .fame or fortune, I think that we can see by the daily news reports that many people even with with great wealth, or great beauty or great fame have some seriously unhappy lives. Young people with everything to live for overdose on drugs, or drive too fast and die in accidents as happened with one young and handsome actor this year.
Many times the results to ourselves from the actions of others is very painful, from many perspectives. Someone we dearly love behaves in a less than ideal way, or they may break the law and be arrested or even sent to prison for a long time. Or someone who breaks the law that we don’t even know, does damage to our families by attacking members of our family. Maybe even killing them. Or we are impoverished because of the disordered person robbing us not only of our love but our financial security as well.
Each year of my life, and I guess every year of my life, around New Year’s I have made an assessment of the past year(s) and what they have brought me, and looked forward to the new year and what I wanted that new year to bring. Sometimes that new year brought some happiness and some unhappiness as well, but each new year as it came had a “bucket list” of what I wanted to do and to have. My bucket lists have changed though over the years and some of them I accomplished, and some I didn’t. Many things I wanted were totally out of my control., and there was no way I could have accomplished them no matter what I wanted or how hard I tried. Some things in the past I might have accomplished if I had kept to the path toward that goal but now it is too late for me to accomplish that goal.
As Socrates stated “The unexamined life is not worth living” and I firmly believe that, because to me, examining our lives to see what has brought good to it and what has not brought good to it is the only way that we can improve our lives and make them more satisfied. So one of the things on my Bucket List is to take time each year to examine my life as a whole and to see what I might do to improve it, make it better. I found this article about examining our lives and thought the opening paragraphs were well written.
When Socrates said, “The life which is unexamined is not worth living”, the philosopher was telling us that we should carefully analyze our actions, a piece of advise for which he should be admired. We should not ignore such a thought-provoking statement about life. The philosopher is telling us that we should carefully analyze our actions. The examination of life is the evaluation of events past and present. By examining our lives, we learn from our mistakes. Although a person who does not examine his life should still continue in existence, examining his actions will make his life much more fulfilling. Without the thorough examination of life, it is almost worthless.
If a person does not examine his life, he may keep making the same mistakes and never change. He would go on in sin and error, not realizing or caring about his mistakes. This would be a tragic mistake, but avoidable if he simply examined his heart and actions for fault, which he would surely find, and pray that he would be able to correct them. Even the best people make mistakes, and the truly great ones recognize and fix them. The great general Robert E. Lee examined his life thoroughly until he died, and therefore found mistakes and improved upon them. He once said, “[Defeats] are sent … to prevent our falling into greater disasters.” But how can a person keep from falling into greater disasters if he does not examine the past?
The Apostle Peter says that while waiting for the return of Christ, one should “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” The only way a person can do this is to examine himself, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal his mistakes and help him to fix them. One should definitely do everything he can to obey what Paul says in the Bible, and examining one’s life is a large part of this effort of which Paul speaks. Although perfection is impossible, one can certainly improve himself by merely critiquing his actions for the better.
So while as an older person my options to accomplish some things I might have enjoyed and succeeded in doing are no longer options. I’m never going to be a female airline pilot or enter the Olympics and win a gold medal, or fly to the moon, but I’m not going to grieve over these lost possibilities or opportunities that I passed up when they might have been remotely possible.
Now, my bucket list is more modest and while maybe less “exciting” that it would have been to have climbed into the chief pilot’s seat as the first woman airline captain, it is none the less satisfying.
My Bucket List now consists of what the Apostle Paul recommended (paraphrased) “as far as it is possible live at peace with all men.” The things that make it possible to live at peace may mean that there are some people I just can’t associate with, so to that extent I may have to sever the relationships with some people formerly in my life.
Another thing on my Bucket List is to be grateful for every day, and everything that God has given me, and to focus on the positive there rather than to pine after things I don’t have.
The final thing on my bucket list is to have an acceptance of what is versus a grieving over what is not. To put down things that I cannot change and let them go. As the prayer frequently called the “Serenity Prayer,”The original, attributed to Niebuhr, is:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.