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Why I don’t have a bucket list

By now, probably everyone has heard about bucket lists. Popularized by the 2007 movie of the same name, the expression comes from “to kick the bucket.” It’s a list of things to accomplish before you die. (More crudely, it can also refer to a list of people you want to have sex with.) Type in “bucket list” into your favorite search engine and you will get thousands of hits for articles, books, pictures, travel destinations, activities, quotes about bucket lists, how to make a bucket list, a social network devoted to bucket lists, and on and on.

I suppose the idea is to create goals. It provides motivation to get you out of that easy chair and do something for a change. “Look at all these things I still have to do with my life.” And some people have had some extraordinary adventures fulfilling their bucket list.

But you know, I really, really don’t want one.

It’s not that I’m more motivated than the next person—there are far more focused and goal oriented people than me. I procrastinate with the best of them. And my life is relatively ho-hum—no globe-trotting adventures in the offing for me.

But you see, I could die tomorrow. Life is fickle that way—anyone can die tomorrow. And when I die, I don’t want my last thought to be, “Gah! All those things I never got to accomplish on my bucket list!”

Don’t I have books I want to read? Of course. And if I don’t read them before I die, I will have read hundreds if not thousands of really good ones in my lifetime. Come visit my groaning shelves.

Don’t I have places I want to visit? You bet. And if I don’t visit them before I die, I still will have visited hundreds of places in my lifetime, with gorgeous views, exciting architecture, and so many wonderful people. Some of these places are within a mile of my house.

Aren’t there new experiences I want to have, people I want to meet, things I want to touch, smell, see, hear, taste? No question. But every single day of my life I experience things, meet people, touch, see, smell, hear, taste things of all kinds. I pay attention.

You know what I want to be thinking when I die? I’m not entirely sure. But, “I ate a good dinner last night;” or “I love my family;” or “That music is beautiful,” all sound pretty good to me. You notice that none of those are regrets.

When it’s my time to die, I don’t want to be thinking about what I didn’t accomplish. What matters to me is what I’m accomplishing right now. Today. Sure there are things in the future I’d like to do. But if I don’t do them, I still plan on being able to say, “I lived a full life.” That’s how I want to live.

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