Anyone else feel like bucket lists are all the rage these days? For the uninitiated, a bucket list, or the slightly more positively termed life list, is a list of experiences you want to have before kicking the bucket. They can range from the mundane – learning to drive stick shift – to the incredible – climbing the tallest peak on each of the 7 continents.
I’ve noticed them popping up on travel blogs in particular, which makes sense really. People who enjoy getting out and seeing the world and planning their next trip probably have a list of the next places they want to go and things they want to do, and it’s not much of a stretch to then start listing non-travel-related experiences as well. And suddenly they’re posting a 100-point bucket list somewhere on the internet.
I love reading these lists. I like comparing what I’ve already done to what other people want to do and getting inspired to think of new things I’d never imagined. But I don’t have one of my own, and I’m not sure I ever will.
Of course there are things that I really want to do in my life. There are specific places I want to go. And yes, I could write those things down and put them up here for you to peruse and me to check off through the years.
But I’m hesitant to sit down one afternoon and proclaim that these are the things I for sure want to do in my life. I know I could always edit the list, but that almost feels like cheating to me. I mean, if I’m only going to erase “cage dive with great whites” from my list in 2 years, how badly do I really want to do it right now?
And while there are things I have wanted to do forever and am sure I will want to do for the foreseeable future (safari somewhere in Africa, I will never let you go, and I’m pretty set on having kids one day), I’ve done plenty of things that I never particularly cared about only to find I loved them or felt somehow satisfied by them. Learning to drive stick, for example, never sounded that interesting until I realized how proud I felt on my first outing in the car by myself. I wasn’t opposed to visiting Patagonia but had no idea how much I would value seeing Torres del Paine until I went. Those things wouldn’t have made the cut if I’d written a bucket list a year ago, but now I would consider them to be just that.
The funny thing is that I love lists. I make them all the time. I love crossing things off lists. You’d think this whole idea would be right up my ally. But I think my commitment-phobia when it comes to a bucket list can be traced to two things.
First, in general I don’t have a detailed life plan (yet?). There are people who have specific goals, and that kind of outlook probably lends itself a bit better to list-making than does my more go-with-the-flow approach. Second, if you had asked me 5 years ago whether I imagined my life looking like it does now, I would have said no. I never planned to live in Chile for as long as I have, for a start. I figure my life will probably continue to take interesting twists and turns, and I can’t predict where I’ll be – or what will be important to me – 5 years from now.
Bucket listers: please don’t think I’m criticizing. I’m not! I even tried to write my own list for a while there before realizing that it just isn’t me. Because let’s be honest: I struggle deciding which books I want to download to my Kindle next, so expecting me to be able to enumerate all the major experiences I want to have before dying is a bit much, don’t you think?