I'm musing about Bucket Lists today. Superficially, I like the idea - a list of things to do before you kick the bucket. Sounds good, right? I like lists. I make them all the time.
But every time I sit down with the intention of writing a Bucket List for myself, I get about three or four items in, and then I get stuck. This puzzles me. I'm not boring, nor do I lack ambition. I clearly have goals in life and should be able to articulate them.
Today I realized that it has nothing to do with a lack of things I want to do before I die. It has to do with the fact that, by putting them down on paper, I feel I am essentially saying, "I have to do this, or I have Failed At Life."
'25 Before 25' or '50 Before 50' are also lists you see a lot. It's easier to illustrate the point with them - let's say I write down 25 things to do before I turn 25.
If I reach my 25th birthday and still haven't done something on the list, then it's like a big shadow on my quarter-century birthday. Maybe, in between writing the list and turning 25, amazing, wonderful, miraculous things happened to me that I never could have anticipated, and those things derailed me. Maybe I put 'go to Europe' on my list, and had every intention of doing so, but I wound up getting a really great job that kept me from going. Rather than celebrate the fact that I got a job like a mother-f**cking adult and can dive face-first into this cookie cake that I could afford to buy for myself, I'll be sulking about the fact that I didn't make it to Europe. Nothing ruins cookie cake like the salt of your own tears.
I'd like to run Boston once in my life. But if it never happens, it won't be from lack of effort. I won't be able to say I've failed at life because, for whatever reason, I couldn't get into one race.
So writing 'Run Boston' on my Bucket List isn't going to work. Neither is 'Publish a Book' because if I never get published, it's not my fault. I can't make people in the publishing world like me if they're not going to like me, and I can't make myself run any faster than my body has potential for running, and I can't set goals for my life that my life doesn't have room for achieving.