If this disagreement was just about bucket lists, I wouldn’t care. The whole idea sounds like a travel industry marketing strategy anyway. What’s important to me is that people know they can live lives of beauty, love, peace, and even power without going anywhere or accomplishing anything noteworthy.
Some believe the best life is the one in which you do the most – you learn, you grow, you do interesting things and meet interesting people. You get your name in the papers.
Studying and learning every day you grow larger.
Following the Way every day you shrink.
You get smaller, until you arrive at not-doing.
You do nothing, and nothing’s not done.
Dao de Jing Chapter 48
In other words, you arrive at living in peace. I think that is the most valuable goal, because anyone can get there. And once you do, you can stay there, and other people will be drawn to join you.
Because of poverty or disability, or because they’re in prison, or sick, or tied down to work or financial responsibilities or psychological struggles, many people have very limited scope for traveling or accomplishing. But if they move their focus from the outer to the inner world, their lives can be richer than a life of travel and adventure.
What makes a life valuable or meaningful? Magic Johnson led the Los Angeles Lakers to five National Basketball Association championships. But what difference did that make? Aside from his teammates, wshose life was improved?
When Johnson was found to have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, he was forced to retire from basketball stardom. He became a global AIDS activist and started the Magic Johnson Foundation, which educates and helps people avoid HIV and to cope with it. Poor people with HIV can find support and care through the foundation. This low-profile work has done a lot more good than all the basketball games he won.
Janey, a woman in my apartment building has significant physical and mental disabilities. There’s no web link for her. She walks with a walker, and whatever anyone says to her, she usually answers “Praise the Lord!” That’s pretty much the limit of her conversation.
But she is often in the lobby to greet people and make them feel welcome. She takes care of her more physically disabled daughter. She doesn’t have a bucket list. The concept would probably sound ridiculous to her. But wouldn’t the world be better off with more Janeys and fewer highly accomplished people like, say, Dick Cheney?
So I’m with Shiloh Sophia. I don’t have a bucket list, more a grail list. How do I want to live right now? You go do things, if that’s what is right for you. I’ll spend more time writing and loving.
Travel and adventure have their place. Although I have to snarkily add that, if you think your life won’t feel complete until you run with the bulls in Pamplona, I seriously doubt you will feel complete afterward. That’s not where completeness comes from.
If you have a bucket list, keep it if it helps you. But if it doesn’t, consider tearing it up and composting it. Send those dreams back to Mother Earth so others can dream them. Start working on your grail list, the things that fill you up in the here and now.