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Kick the Bucket?

When all is said and done, all of us at one point will come to the end of the line. Of course depending on your belief system, you might have an asterisk next to that. Either way, your physical body that you are currently residing in, will give out. When it does and you finally kick the bucket, where will you be in your life at the time? Will you look back at your life and view it as successful? Did you experience everything that you ever could have hoped for? It might sound a bit morbid to start a conversation on kicking the bucket, but the reality is that we all do need to think about it at one point. As you think through it, you will probably want to get a grasp on your ultimate goals in life. We all have different determining factors in what we view as a successful life. What predetermined factors will influence your outlook?

Where did kick the bucket even come from first off? There are several ideas on how kick the bucket came to be a phrase for death. One of the best known would be the idea of a person looking to commit suicide. They would hang themselves from the rafters above and stand on a bucket. They would then proceed to “kick the bucket” away to move forward with the deed. Whether this was the actuality of how the phrase came into play, regardless it has stuck as a term used for death in society. Ok now that the thoughts of kicking the bucket are shared, let’s move on to the more important reason this term is used. Enter, the bucket list! What is a bucket list? The definition of a bucket list in Webster’s Dictionary refers to it as: “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.” Pretty simple right? Have you thought about your bucket list? What would be those must do things before you pass? The bucket list movie was about this very situation. You add in Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson and it turns out to be a pretty funny movie with a moral compass in the end. The two terminally ill patients (one wealthy with money, the other wealthy with love) decide to leave the hospital and take a trip and experience things they never have before. As they traverse the world, they experience things that many of us only dream of doing. Making their way through their journey, they continue to question whether or not their list reflects their ultimate goal of happiness. After conquering several items on their list, they start to question the effect of the bucket list. I won’t spoil the ending if you haven’t seen the movie. What I will say is that they travel the entire world and check countless entries off their list, all to find that the most important experience that life has to offer is beyond the bucket list they created. After the movie, most would probably say, why do I do a bucket list when I have everything I could ask for around me? Well, I love my family and friends and they are the most important things. I also love to travel and there is nothing wrong with making a bucket list of things to experience in your life. Think of it as a list of ever-changing goals. Behold my bucket list (highlighted items have been completed):

  • Travel to Japan and experience the Shinto religion

  • Travel to the Berlin Wall

  • Tour the Galápagos Islands before it’s too late

  • Tour Rome

  • Tour Greece

  • Ride Venice in a gondola

  • Go to Abby road and do the Beatles walk

  • Go to the Darwin estate

  • Have tea in England

  • Drink coffee in front of the Eiffel Tower at a French cafe

  • Go view Stonehenge

  • Go to the Guinness brewery

  • Ireland and the Cliffs of Moher

  • Have a beer in Munich

  • Go on an African Safari

  • Swim with a great white shark

  • Go to a Ted talk

  • Zip-line

  • Take a dip in hot springs

  • Learn another language

  • Make sushi

  • White water rafting

  • Go on a several day hike

  • Hike Half Dome

  • Go on a several day cruise

  • Swim with dolphins in the wild

  • Swim with Manta Rays at night

  • Go Whale Watching

  • Great Wall of china

  • Smoke a cigar and drink coffee in Cuba

  • Surf and snorkel in Hawaii

  • Watch killer whales in the wild

  • Take scuba diving lessons

  • See the Great Barrier Reef before it’s gone

  • See Garth brooks in concert

  • Visit Vancouver

  • View the northern lights

  • Do the voice of a movie trailer

  • Go to Langenselbold, Germany

  • Stay a day at a Buddhist monastery

  • Go to New York for the Christmas tree and ball drop

  • Hot air balloon ride over Africa

  • Bourbon trail

  • Drink Scotch on a whiskey distillery tour in Scotland

  • Coffee shop in Amsterdam

  • Visit a coffee plantation

  • Visit a cigar tobacco plantation

  • Ride the lift at whistler up to the top of the world

  • Hike half dome

  • Go to the Kentucky Derby

  • Go to the Daytona 500

  • Visit all 50 states

  • See Komodo dragons in the wild

  • Stay at an overwater bungalow

  • See the top waterfalls in the world

My bucket list sees change every year based on experiences that I have in my life. Starting my bucket list 10 years ago, I was unsure of how successful I would be at accomplishing items on the list. Looking back over the years, I’m pleasantly surprised at the amount of experiences I have had. The list has a variety of items on it that include travel and personal experiences. Some are odd and have a very personal meaning vs the typical ones on a list that most people would probably add. Ride through Venice in a gondola or have a coffee in front of the Eiffel tower are pretty standard bucket list items for people. While going to Langenselbold, Germany, where my family first originated, or seeing my favorite singer from my childhood have a much different meaning to me personally. They all have a special place in my heart or they wouldn’t be on a list of things that I want to do before dying. An article by Bence Nanay in Psychology Today makes the point against having a bucket list. He states that having a list of items that you want to do before kicking the bucket creates a desire that is often not fulfilled. It’s interesting and I have to somewhat agree with his viewpoint. He brings up the example of a smoker thinking of their next cigarette. The feeling creates an illusion that it will be the best tasting cigarette ever, yet this is normally much further from the truth. You will often go to great lengths to get this cigarette and that exciting moment of having it, is often not reality. You find yourself doubting your decision and regretting the experience itself, because it doesn’t live up to magical moment in your mind. My trip to Paris is probably a good contradiction to his theory. We rented an Airbnb a block away from the Eiffel Tower. In my mind, I imagined waking up in the morning, finding a perfect little Parisian cafe. The waiter would have his beret on, with a black and white striped shirt. I would order a double espresso and enjoy it as I stared dramatically at the Eiffel Tower. End Scene. The reality of my morning that day was far from my moment I pictured in my head. I walked over to the Eiffel Tower and gazed up at the behemoth monument. People were not around so I got wonderful pictures of the tower in all its splendor. Afterward, I took a stroll around the monument looking for the perfect location for a coffee. It was nowhere to be found. I walked around the area and traveled about a block away before finding a place. The place was a distance from the monument, so I ended up with a delicious to go coffee. As I walked towards the monument with my wonderful disposable cup in hand, I thought back to my initial idea of what this experience would be like. Was it the experience that I had in my mind? Not at all! Was I glad I did it? Absolutely! The view was stunning and it created a different visual in my mind of what my experience could be, because I made it a reality. The absence of seating nor the average cup of joe would sway me from this once in a lifetime experience. There are several items on my list that didn’t work out exactly like I pictured them in my mind. Swimming with dolphins wasn’t the expected ideal of riding a dolphin into the sunset. My conscious overrode the idea and I couldn’t bring myself to support companies that kept these highly intelligent creatures in captivity. I went into the ocean and swam around dolphins, which was actually even more exhilarating. Being surrounded by so many dolphins swimming next to me in their natural habitat tickled my excitement beyond belief. Zip-lining was in the pouring rain on the big island of Hawaii. The views as we propelled through the tropical rainforest were unreal. Even as my glasses fogged and I was almost unable to see, I did my best James Bond quotes as we laughed until we cried. The downpour didn’t matter. We didn’t plan the details of the day, nor would we have ever changed the outcome. It’s the best advice I could ever give about doing a bucket list. You have to go into it with realistic expectations of what you will get out of the item you place. You always have to be willing to give a little on the magical moment in your mind. Who knows? Maybe the moment will lead to something else that captivates your imagination even more after doing it? Can the bucket list item ever really be a fail? It really depends on how you view it. If you are extremely descriptive in your item. “I want to sit at the top of the Coliseum at sunrise and watch the city of Rome under its glow with a glass of Aperol Spritz”. It’s probably not going to happen. Sometimes you have to let go of the narrative and see what the experience will bring. The great thing about creating a personal bucket list is thinking through the amazing things that you want to do in your life. Theres no timeframe on the bucket list and you can constantly add and subtract. Some items on your list might fade away as the years go on, or maybe some items will be added as you experience the world. I remember going up to Whistler, Canada at one point. As we went to the top of the mountains, we saw a chair lift that brought you to the heavenly area. As I watched people take the chair lift to the top, I was honestly frightened to take the ride. I wasn’t obviously in the right mentality at the time to do it. So I added it to my bucket list of things to do later on in life. It’s about getting the courage to take on amazing things that you never thought you could conquer. That’s the great part about it. I’m sure we all have that mentality at one point. I should have experienced this or I should have tried that. It’s ok, we all have these things happen. It’s knowing that maybe one day you can go back and do these things.

Regardless of your bucket list, I invite you to take a look at the experiences that you want to have. Whether there are 5 items on your list or 100, it will give you some focus on things you want to see and do. Will I leave this earth saying, wow I didn’t accomplish my list? I doubt it. What I will do is look back at the experiences that I’ve had and add in all of the things that I never thought I would even dream of. It’s been a wonderful ride already. I’m excited to continue my venture through life and experience what I can on my list. The rest are items that will be amazing as they come up, I just can’t imagine them at the moment. Share your bucket list with me and get inspired for the future!

Author: Chris Hetrick.

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