Who can forget the movie The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. (If you haven’t watched it – watch it. What struck me as sad was the fact that the main characters in that movie waited to have cancer before they took the time to fulfill their dreams. It’s humbling when we are reminded of our mortality, and that the only moment that we can be sure of, is this one right now. 

Recently I read a book by Robert A Johnson, called ‘Living Your Unlived Life: Coping with Unrealized Dreams and Fulfilling Your Purpose in the Second Half of Life’. (My psychology/self help reading addiction is back.) It’s the kind of book that speaks about having a midlife crisis without throwing your life away on some self destructive, crazy, wild fling. It’s all about giving life to unlived aspects of yourself. He writes what his friend, who’s a chaplain at a hospital, told him about a recurring theme that she heard repeatedly from the dying men and women. ‘They thought that if they met the responsibilities of life, fulfilling the culturally prescribed things that we all feel compelled to follow, that somehow life would not run out before they had a chance to live it. Yet in those precious moments  before death they realized there was no more time. It was too late, and they had missed some essential experiences.’  Isn’t that chillingly sad. 

And that’s where a bucket list comes in. I don’t think you can ever be too young or too old to have one. It’s about writing out the life you’d love to have, the things you’d love to do and achieve. The small and big goals that you would have loved to do if today was the last day of your life.

A few years ago on New Years Eve, my husband and I made our bucket lists. I wrote mine on paper and now don’t know where it is. He put his on his phone and still has it. The other night we were out on ‘Date Night’ (See previous blog post. Bucket listing is a great date night activity) and we read through his list. We were surprised to see that he’d done quite a few things on it. It was exhilirating to see that we’d gone to Italy and that he’d fulfilled some of his personal goals. These were things we may not have ended up doing if he hadn’t written them down.

Of course there was a lot left to do on the list. But it didn’t matter. It’s not about fulfilling each goal, dream and wish fastidiously. The list is more of a guideline as to the general direction you’d like your life to go. That night we individually rewrote our lists. 

My list was fun and simple. It helped me refocus on what I want in my life. There were easy, doable things on the list: Draw and paint. Walk to coffee shops with baby (something I find hard to do in Johannesburg). Read poetry. Get my children involved in a social, reading cause with other South African children. And daunting goals: Bake a six layer cake, bake bread. And my bigger, hairier, audacious goals like travel to India and do a yoga course there. 

From simple goals to high dreams, my life is enriched for the better by writing out my bucket list. Since I’ve written it I’ve found a six layer cake recipe. (In this months House and Garden Gourmet magazine.) I’ve broadened my reading. I’ve walked a bit more. I’ve lived a little bit more of my unlived life. It’s so simple and it can’t fail to bring a smile to even the most cynical, despairing face. There’s so much to do and be, and I believe just sending the intention out there, creates in our unconscious the space to do more than we ever imagined we could.