Bucket List Stuff

(rewritten from Why Create A Bucket List? on July 24, 2008):

When I turned 30, my wife threw a surprise birthday party for me, which was a big deal as the two of us are about as unsentimental as a couple can get (we didn’t even have a camera until our kids were born – 14 years after we married).  I hadn’t thought about my age for almost ten years.  I was suddenly doing a lot of thinking – and was instantly depressed.  My generation didn’t trust anyone over 30 and I had just become untrustworthy.  As a matter of fact, all I could think of was that my life was all but over (I had strange thoughts about mortality at 30) and I had nothing to show for it.  I felt that I had made no real impact on the world and that I was not living up to my potential.

I languished in this semi-depression for almost a year before I decided to do something about it.  This is when I created what we today call a “bucket list”.  My list consisted of fifty things I wanted to accomplish before I died.  Fast-forward almost twenty years and I find myself with an almost completed list (two items left).

My categories were:

  1. Self-improvement
  2. Investment in others
  3. Family
  4. Travel
  5. Professional life

I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve met some of these goals and, although I included a section on self-improvement, I now wish I had paid closer attention to who I wanted to be rather than what I wanted to accomplish.  However, I feel I am getting closer to the person I should be and want to be in spite of myself.  All in all, it’s been an enjoyable journey – and much more satisfying than just wandering through life.

Below are links to posts about my 20 year journey through my “bucket list.”

Self Improvement: Reading a Book a Week, My Formal Education, I’m Flying,

Investment in Others: Building Homes in Mexico, Building Community in Costa Rica,

Family: The Good Father, Debt Free, Marriage,

Travel: World Traveler, White Water Rafting, Snorkeling, The UK, Israel,

Professional Life: A Teacher, A Principal

Goals Not Met: I’m Not Perfect (what a shock), I Can’t Speak Spanish… Either,

As I think about the kind of person I (still) hope to be, I am struck by the words of Michelangelo when he was asked how he could turn a block of stone into a beautiful angelic statue.  He responded with something to this effect: “I see the angel inside the block of stone and remove everything that doesn’t belong.”  That is (more or less) what my list has become for me – a vision of who I want to become and a chipping away of what doesn’t belong.  It became much easier after my kids were born.  I wanted to be the kind of person who could be patient with them as they grew up and developed into the kind of people who could be patient with me as I grew old (from Who I Want to Become and Another Bucketlister – August 26, 2008).

6 responses to “Bucket List Stuff

  1. I just stumbled upon your blog today, I love this idea of a bucketlist. I’m feeling rather aimless so this may help me focus. Thanks!

    It helped me focus. I hope it works for you too. Thanks for the visit and comment.

  2. this was a great eye opener for me

    After twenty years, I can say it’s been worth it. Oddly enough, the list really helped me focus on life, not just on accomplishing things.

  3. Your Web page has so many beautiful points about life, it really is a great inspiration. And I hope I can grow up to be someone determined and look back at my life and feel proud of the things I did in it. Best of Wishes to you good sir.


    How kind are you? I hope life goes well for you. Best wishes to you as well.

  4. Jamie Williams

    I stumbled upon this website while looking up the meaning of colitas and have found a new homepage. I will begin each day discovering more about this bucket list stuff and how i can make a difference in my own life as well as the life of others. I look forward to beginning a new chapter in my life!

    I’ll look forward to seeing your bucket list.

  5. Funny how we just stumble across things online. I was reading about how to get unstuck creatively, followed a link, followed another, and then something else and ta-dah! Wound up reading your bucket list.

    It’s quite something, to realize you’re just meandering through life without anything to show for it. Sounds like your list helped you a lot! Perhaps I will give it a shot… after all, what have I got to lose?

    Aimlessness. Thanks for wandering in.

  6. This morning, in my usual before-getting-out-of-bed ruminations, the phrase ‘Oh, the places you’ll go’ came to mind. Wondering where that came from I stumbled to the computer and was surprised to find the Dr. Suess origin. I have never read Dr. Suess so I don’t know how that was lodged in my brain. The best part is that I found your wonderful blog. I look forward to reading more.

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