In the 2007 movie The Bucket List, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson teamed up to present a story that struck a chord with a great many of us “seasoned” citizens.
The movie centers on a blue-collar mechanic (Freeman) and a billionaire businessman (Nicholson) who meet in the hospital, having both been diagnosed with cancer. After learning that he has less than a year to live, Freeman’s character writes a “bucket list” of all the things he wants to do before he “kicks the bucket”. With Nicholson’s help, he sets out to accomplish as many as possible.
The Bucket List spawned a great interest in the idea of creating personal bucket lists. It became a popular fad to write down all the things you would like to do, the places you would like to see, and the things you would like to possess before the end of life.
Being a bit slow on the draw, I just recently decided to sit down with pencil and paper to do mine. In the process I learned a very important lesson.
I began to write and the first few items came rather easily.
Topping my list is “Visiting Normandy, France”. Because of my acute interest in the history of World War II, particularly the European theater, Normandy was an essential. I wanted to stand at Pointe-du-Hoc, sift the sands of Omaha Beach through my fingers, and reverently stand and pray in the military cemetery on the bluff above the beaches. (In May 2017 I was blessed to scratch this one off the list)
Another item on my “bucket list” is “To perform on a concert stage in front of a full orchestra.” This one might be tough to accomplish, but it’s been a lifelong dream and must be included on the list. I can only imagine what it must a feel like to perform with a stage full of wonderful musicians all gathered to use their talents to try to make me sound good. Of course, the older I get, the harder they will have to work to accomplish that task.
There are a couple of people on my list who I would love to have the opportunity to sit down and chat with. Both are musicians and neither one carry a name you would probably recognize.
In addition, I added some goals that I am currently working on like “writing and publishing at least one book”, and “writing at least one song that I think is a truly great song”.
After jotting down those first few my mind suddenly went blank. I simply could not think of any other things that we so important to me that I would feel unfulfilled if I were to die before accomplishing them.
Then it hit me like. I realized that I have been blessed by already having accomplished the things I value most in life. They were on my Bucket List long before I had heard of the concept and I could already check many of them off.
I’m growing older with my high school sweetheart and enjoying the journey. I’ve watched my five sons become fine young men whom I am very proud of. I’ve got the health and freedom to spend time with my grandchildren, spoiling them to the best of my ability. I’ve got friends and family and community. I’m doing work that I enjoy and hope to continue doing for many years to come. I can look back on my life and know that though I may not have always been successful, I always tried to do what I thought was right and best.
I’ll continue to write my “bucket list” but more as an amusement than an obsession. Most of all I’ll keep doing the important things with all the energy I can muster. Like everyone, when I stand at the door ready to depart this life I will probably look back and see a few places I’ll wish I would have seen and a few things I’ll wish I would have done. I am confident, however, that they won’t be the urgent and important things.
Therein lies the lesson of the Bucket List: When you live each day with grace, purpose, and passion, the important things come into focus and your Bucket List – the truly important things of life – will be much, much shorter.