Before We Had Bucket Lists
Posted on July 31, 2014
Seems not that long ago that it was normal to save up for a new couch instead of a vacation. It was exciting to have enough money in the bank to make an extra big dinner for lots of friends. Digging in the garden was more exciting exercise than going somewhere far away to run. But over the past ten years, I’ve noticed a big shift. Now my newsfeeds and emails and reading lists are riddled with “bucket lists.” Ten, or Fifty, or 100 Things to Do Before You Die. Get out there now, because, because, um?
What are you running from? Do you think you can outrun death faster by visiting the world’s best tacquerias on five continents? Will you live longer if your last night might be in Paris, France, instead of Paris, Texas?
Now, I know there are lots of people who pack out into the wilderness or distant places with friends, and those friendships make life fuller and richer. The stars are brighter on those trails because they are filtered through laughter. If that’s you, you aren’t bucket listing. You’re overflowing your bucket.
If we have to think of our lives as a bucket, why not overflow it with hospitality, small joys, and daily rituals that soothe our deepest selves? Anyone who has had a leaky faucet knows how quickly drips add up. One moment, droip-droip-droip, the next, splashing on the floor. If we focus too much attention on extraordinary experiences, our buckets can run dry for months, years, even. We may get the trips and luxuries we have taught ourselves to crave, but they won’t satisfy us. Our eyes may close for the last time on a completed to-do list, but if those eyes are not wrinkled with love and laughter, it will not have helped us.
I think about bucket lists now when I hear Jesus’ question – what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul? We can’t add length to our lives, but we can add breadth and depth. Without a list of expensive things attached to our buckets, we would be more willing to share the goodness of daily life with one another. If we stop thinking about what we have today as scarce resources to be hoarded in service of lists, what might happen? Perhaps we’ll share more. Perhaps our couches, even the old, shabby ones, will comfort friends and children, pets and long sessions reading novels while it rains. Perhaps our plain old kitchen mugs, purchased nowhere more exotic than the local discount store, will hold our friend’s hearts warm while we serve them coffee and tea.
There’s nothing wrong with vacations and breaks and special occasions. But if we think they are all there is to life, our bucket may not be worth kicking.
What will you do this weekend to fill your bucket?