Have you made a Bucket List – a list of things you want to be sure you experience before you Kick the Bucket? Mine’s not written, but there are some things , including a tandem parachute jump on my 70th birthday, seeing my novel Stolen adapted for the big screen, losing my excess tonnage, and living to be a hundred years old (but only if I’m still having fun). There’s more, but you get the idea.
But I also have a list of things I never plan to cross off a list. These are things that I hope I never do so much of that I have no further interest in them. Here are a few:
- Reading. Probably a third of the books on my shelf have bookmarks stuck in them, where I started reading them. Someday, I may finish each one. I hope to die with a three-foot stack of books on my nightstand, waiting for me to get to them. I never want to reach the point where I’ve read enough. The written word has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life, and I want words to delight me forever.
- Writing. I also hope I never lose the joy of putting my own words to paper. I hope I’ve never created so much that I quit. When I leave this earth, I hope a few stray lines of another poem to bouncing around in my head. I hope I never run out of uppity characters who have their own ideas about what they’ll do, thank you very much. Because they’re always right. Always.
- Participating in Life. I have a wonderful friend who, at 77, said, “I’ve been going and doing all my life. Now I’m going to sit back and let other people go and do.” Not me. I plan to be right in the middle of things for as long as possible, embarrassing the great-grandchildren singing with the piped-in oldies and dancing down the aisle in the grocery store. (I can still do the Twist, but I can’t last as long as I did back in the day).
- Have you seen those pictures of old folks who can’t find even a smile anywhere, much less a laugh? I do not want to be that kind of old person. I want to laugh at jokes and funny situations and at inappropriate times. I want my laughter to be infectious and make the speaker have to wait until we get over it before he can go on.
- Crying. I also hope I never lose the ability to empathize, to feel someone else’s or my own pain, or to be so overcome with joy that my emotions spill out of my eyes and run down my face. I want to feel my life.
- Traveling. So many places and things to see, and not nearly enough time to see them all. I plan to travel till my feet just won’t go. I want to meet new people and learn about how they live and what they love and what they think is funny.
- Learning. I gotta say, this one makes me a little sad. There are so many fascinating things and ideas to learn about, I will never learn a tenth of what I’d like to know. I have squandered so much time and so many opportunities to learn. But regret doesn’t serve me well. I resolve to learn from this moment until I die.
- Wondering. I want to die full of questions. I want to learn as much as I can, and then still thirst for more knowledge. I want my last words to be, “But how does that work?”
- Enjoying nature. If I should ever reach a point where looking at the mountains on the horizon doesn’t fill my heart with gratitude, it’ll be time for me to go. If the glad honking of returning geese stops making me look up at the sky and smile, I’ll know. If the companionship of a beloved dog doesn’t warm my heart, I’ll know. If the hum and the whir and the little sounds that nature makes don’t excite me, I’ll be ready. If a shaded path through the woods doesn’t beckon me, then I’ll be good to go. But I pray that never happens.
So I say, make your Bucket list and do all the things on it. But also think about the things you’d never want to check off.
My friend Judy said once on her birthday, “I’m getting so OLD!” I replied, “I thought that was the plan!” It’s definitely my plan.