Life lists

I had for a time quite a fascination with the idea of making a bucket list, or a list of things to do before one dies. Many are probably aware of the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, and most who have seen it undoubtedly composed their own lists, even if only in their heads. I know i did.

I didn’t know what it was called then, but I made my first bucket list in 2005. It contained items on traveling to this and that place, raising a family, sharing the Gospel to others, making a contribution of consequence to the field of child-focused development work, writing a book, scuba diving, bungee jumping, sky-diving, flying a plane, and teaching in university. I must have been up in the clouds when I wrote all these!

Then I attended a workshop on education about a year later, where the facilitators had us make a “Gusto Ko Pang Maging…” (“I still want to become…”) list. Mine contained becoming a mother and grandmother, a human rights lawyer, a consultant (Haha! I thought that would be a big deal), a social work teacher, a Sunday school teacher, a full-time church volunteer, a writer, a viajera (i.e., operating a small retail business that would involve finding goods from other countries), and–gasp–a theater actor. O…..kay.

These days when I think of bucket lists, I see tick-boxes–the kind that I have in my daily to-do list–each of which, once marked, would give me a sense of accomplishment and urge me to pat myself on the back. If I were to make an updated bucket list and if I were later to be successful in ticking all those boxes, what then? Would the number of ticks correspond to the degree that I’d have lived a full life?

I suppose the answer to the latter question would much depend on my concept of a full life.

Which brings me back to this post I made a few weeks ago about having the end in mind. Reviewing my end-in-mind list and putting it side by side with my former lists make me feel somehow sheepish and somehow relieved. I’m imagining a scenario now inspired by my old lists…I’m in my deathbed, and I’m saying, “Oh, but I would’ve wanted to act on stage!” or “Too bad I never got to bungee-jump.” Thank you, Lord, for straightening out my priorities and making me see that a list of activities, accomplishments or titles doesn’t make a life!

This is not to say that it’s a bad idea to have a list of things one would like to do or accomplish. I have in fact signed up on Day Zero, a site where one can commit to do up to 1o1 things for 1001 days. Like I said, lists like this can give a person things to tap him/herself on the back for; plus, it can be quite fun! One only has to make sure that he/she does not fall into the trap of reducing him/her existence to a list of “been-theres” and “done-thats.” Doing so would be really tragic, gleaming end-of-life resume notwithstanding.


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