Talking with a college friend last night about changes in our lives between then and now, I noted that in my early twenties, I’d written a bucket list which I still kept buried in the back of my wallet. What was funny was that the twenty-five items on the list were not necessarily things I was excited to do, but things I felt I ought to do at some point to become a well-rounded person.
In the last eleven years, I’ve only checked two items off the list. Some of the things on the list no longer interest me, like getting a tattoo. Some, I’m no longer eligible for, like joining the military. And some are not entirely in my control, like getting married or getting a novel published. But the main thing is that I wasn’t really enthusiastic about most of the things on the list–it wasn’t about having adventures or fulfilling dreams, it was a to-do list I thought I needed to complete to prove I had not squandered my time on Earth.
Not surprisingly, because the list isn’t actually connected to my dreams and desires, I’ve only looked at it a couple of times in the last eleven years, and the experiences that have been most significant in my life are things that weren’t on the list at all. So I wonder, is it time for a new list, one that is more honest about dreams I really want to accomplish, places I need to save up to visit? Should I make it into a kind of ten-year check-in, seeing how my self-concept changes over time? Or should I give up the idea of lists altogether and trust that the things that really speak to me will get done without some list to remind me?