Monday, May 27, 2013

Dump the bucket list once and for all

    The Endless Bucket List is trying to submerse me. I will not take the plunge.
     I fear that I am having a virtual panic attack (note, the word, “virtual”).  I am being bombarded with emails and Facebook postings. Numerous acquaintances are crossing off another item on their list to do before they croak. (They are politer in their choice of wording, and dance around the thought of life’s end; truthfully, that’s what they mean.)
     I am going to make a dreadful scene yelling and screaming before I permit someone else to dictate what I should, or shouldn’t do, before I die. There is no one size fits all to life.
     I have no bucket list. I will never have a bucket list. Need I write it a third time? (It would make me feel better. I’ll spare you, though.)
     Here is my warning before things turn ugly: You need to rely on your own inner resources and remain an individual thinker. It may be the harder path— but trust me, it is more rewarding.       
    Like every other trend, the “followers” of the world, allow culture to make the rules. Frequently, they join what they think is an exclusive club, “herd mentality.” I want no parts of it.
     You might not be aware that there is a “bucket list” to accomplish before you are 21 years of age. (Lucky me. I missed that deadline years ago.)  Go vegetarian. Cleanse yourself of Facebook for a week and your ex-boyfriend will quit stalking you. Join a club you think that you are too cool to belong.
     “The Bucket List” (2007) is an American comedy-drama film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The main plot follows two terminally ill men on their road trip with a wish list of things to do before they "kick the bucket".
     Frankly, I got a good laugh from the movie, and it did make me stop, contemplate and shed a tear, as well. That’s all it was suppose to do, though. Suddenly, and more alarmingly, a movie is becoming a life manual. I don’t think so.
     You are familiar with the book, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” a New York Times bestseller by Patricia Schultz with a “suggested” list of sites you mustn’t miss…you know, before you fall over. (I am running out of cute descriptions.)
     Schultz is a veteran travel journalist. I wish that I had thought of this clever book. When the it first came out, I couldn’t resist thumbing through the pages at the bookstore (when no one was looking over my shoulder) to check where my ideas were in relation to someone who has written for dependable travel guides, such as Frommer’s and Berltiz.       
     My ideal experience is not like anyone else’s. Sometimes I have it planned out. More than likely, the best events come spontaneously, and I like to recollect them in that context, too. 
    One of the most gratifying experiences occurred on a back road covered with snow late in the winter. I was driving slowly loving the peaceful space around me, and remarking to myself how fortunate I am to be living in such a scenic area. That could have been enough it itself. Ideally, I would like to have stopped time to contemplate the picture all around.
     Suddenly, up a head of me an Amish buggy turned onto a corner road. I did the only thing that I could do to capture the moment. I grabbed my cell phone and took a picture with the car window up, too, while keeping myself from steering into a ditch.
     When I tell that story to friends in other parts of the country, I get varying remarks in return. Those who love the earth and appreciate the diversity of American geography will give me a thumbs-up. Of course, I received a lot of ribbing for living in such a harsh climate for late March no less. Others, sadly to say, who are in a hurry with the faster pace of life, don’t get it at all. That’s their choice.
      Go on a hike with a naturalist and you might go only two feet, but ah, what an investigation you will have learning about insects and plant life. With no preconceived expectations, it can be one of your “best days ever”.  That journal entry would not be found in someone’s “wish list”.
     Many tourists are satisfied getting in every imaginable site in a week, and cross off each locale forever. I liken them to the people who are in and out of a museum in under a half hour wondering what the fuss is all about. Their sneakers do cover a lot of territory.
     I am not one of those travelers that scratch the surface. As for me, I appreciate taking a real look around me, meeting families and engaging in conversation to find out what a place is all about.
     Now this whole column may cause a negative reaction if you, or someone close, is facing a terminal disease. Your family is trying to live out dreams together for lasting memories. I completely sympathize. Really, I do.
     For the rest of you plugging away at the daily grind, a plastic bucket doesn’t fill up any faster than aluminum. Save the expense. Savor the moment.