Movies have given us many of the cultural catch phrases we use in everyday conversation. Some have become so commonplace that they are free-standing. People might not even know they originated in a Hollywood blockbuster. “Say hello to my little friend.” “Houston, we have a problem.” “I’ll be back” spoken with an Austrian accent. “We’re on a mission from God.” “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.” “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” “There’s no place like home.” “I’ll have what she’s having.” “Hasta la vista, baby.” This is kind of fun!
One of the currently most popular phrases that is a gift from the big screen is the “bucket list.” You know the movie- Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman decide to seek adventure before they both die of cancer. But now the term “bucket list” is so common, even my ten-year-old neighbor has one.
This movie and this phrase changed a lot of lives. It was the first time people started to verbalize a wish list and began to check things off. It made the general population more aware of our limited time on the planet, and gave us the idea that we should stop putting off fun, adventure and challenges before it was too late. This gave birth to related phrases such as “put it on the list,” and has become kissing cousins with another popular phrase, “I’m making a list and checking it twice.”
I feel like I have had a list since I was a teenager, and I have been pretty good about checking things off: graduate high school, check; leave New York City, check; figure out a career that I will love, double check; have a family, triple check. What’s cool about having a “bucket list” is that is gives you something to look forward to. It’s really nothing more than a list of goals, both huge and tiny. Here are some things that are on mine…
Before I die, I would like to go to Australia, Asia and Africa. Okay, those are pretty huge, but there are places to go and people to meet! Before I die, I’d like to have some grandchildren to spoil rotten. Well, that one has to be on my kids’ bucket lists or I am out of luck. I’d like to travel to outer space and see the earth from up there…okay, so some things on my list may be a bit out of reach, but I did try- in 1985 I applied for the position of Teacher in Space that went to Christa McAuliffe. I think that’s the thing about a bucket list- you should put anything at all on it and then make plans to knock off as many as you can. Why limit yourself??
Maybe we have to incorporate our lists into our lives so that they become a seamless part of our thinking. I think that’s why I use the phrase “put it on the list” pretty regularly and without much thought as to parameters. Just about anything can make my list, as long as it is something I want to do (as opposed to need to do). A swimming pool in my backyard? A ski weekend out west? Attending the Olympics? Scuba diving? A family trip to somewhere fun with all of us? All on my list…. Some of these are material things,but many are experiences. I figure- you can’t take it with you when you go, so spend it on fun whenever you can. Some things on my list are more grounded: write the great American novel; become a volunteer to help needy children or at an animal shelter, or both; learn to knit. When I think about it, my bucket list keeps changing. The things I would have put on the list last year or even last week, would not make it this morning. I guess that’s okay too. After all, it’s my list.
What’s on yours?