(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:
- Investment in others
- 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.”
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).