I’ve always been about living your life like this day is your last. Which is probably normal from someone who has died a couple dozen times. That doesn’t mean I’m a thrill seeker – I’m really the opposite. I think people who want to jump out of a plane because “why not” don’t understand the whole “living each day like it’s your last” because that mentality is about valuing life – not taking stupid risks for the sake of taking them. It also doesn’t mean playing it safe. For example, if someone had always wanted to jump out of a plane – last day or not, then they should. If someone is trying to get over a fear of heights and they think jumping out of a plane might do the trick – then they should too. The difference is their risks have meaning, or a point. Unlike a daredevil that tries to cheat death on a daily basis – that’s different.
Some basic rules I have are:
- Always say how you feel.
- Never go to bed angry.
- Always make sure there is a point. If there isn’t, move onto something that has a point.
These are simple enough, but recently after some reflecting I realized I didn’t have something that I really thought I should: a bucket list. My first and only bucket list I made was in July 2009, after the last time I died and when doctors basically told me to make a bucket list because they thought my coming back was a temporary fluke. They encouraged a short and doable list – but still something worth dreaming. It was hard to think after recent head trauma, seizures, strokes and multiple organ failure, so one doctor said: What three things do you want to do before you die? For some reason the three things worked or I just had a moment of clarity between spells of endless neurological fog:
- Get published.
- Go to Ireland.
- See Ani Difranco in concert.
Now seven years later, and I’ve only crossed off one of those things – seeing Ani DiFranco in concert. Technically, I’ve been published but I meant have a book published so I’m not crossing that one off yet. But back then the point was to have a short doable list – which isn’t necessarily how most bucket lists are made and/or approached. So I decided that this year I am going to expand it. And that it is going to be an ever-changing list, constantly being added to as things hopefully also start to get crossed off. So far I have 36 items on my list. Most of them are places I want to visit (Ireland, Greece, France), things I want to learn (sign language, French, Italian), things I want to accomplish (publish at least one book of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry; write a bestseller, different dream publication bylines) and things I want to do (have a family; live on an island; build our dream house; go on a cruise; explore Mayan ruins; teach; ride in a limo – no, I never have before). It’s becoming a fun little list, but I hope I end up pushing myself and using it to try new things, face deep fears, and live out the dreams I am both aware of and have yet to be aware of.
Why wait until you’re about to kick the bucket, or even realize the bucket is there at all, to make a bucket list? It’s a lot harder to do a bunch of dreamy things if you’re sick or on a limited timetable. Best to spread it around.
The best thing about this list is it reminds you of things you want to do, without the pressure of getting them done. Rather than being something rigid and plotted out, it is always changing, because in life what we want, what matters – all of those things often change too.
I’m not sure why I didn’t do this sooner, but I’m glad I have.
What would you want to do if you found out there wasn’t going to be a tomorrow? How would that life look and how is it different than the one you’re leading now?
It doesn’t have to be different at all. Bucket list or no bucket list – the present is where life is happening and in the present, nothing, including a tomorrow, is guaranteed. So you better start living! 😉