Everyone has a bucket list, a list of things you want to do or accomplish—at least once—before you die.
Run a marathon. Climb Mount Everest. See the world. Sky dive.
Or more simply for most of us—experience as many new things as possible.
There’s nothing wrong with the bucket list. It can be a positive driver to add challenge and enjoyment to our life. A bucket list can push us, in good ways, to accomplish big things like successfully completing a marathon. It can also be a way to reward ourselves for working hard, by taking a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a dreamed about location.
But the waiting part is a little bothersome. Waiting—or wasting the day we have right in front of us—while we pursue our sometimes elusive bucket list.
In “Biography of Silence,” a book about meditation, author Pablo d’Ors encourages us to find the magic in daily life. He believes it will, one day, make our final sunset more extraordinary. “We live lives that are not ours, and that is why we die bewildered. The sad thing is not dying but doing so without having lived. Those who truly live are always willing to die; they know they have fulfilled their mission.”
This is his personal mission—what he strives for in order to treasure each day and make it meaningful. It’s not a bucket list. It’s a living list.
- To write only what contributes toward improving those who read me.
- To abstain from greed and never compare myself to my fellows.
- To water my plants and care for an animal.
- To visit the sick, converse with the lonely, and play with a child.
- To say my prayers, celebrate the Eucharist, and listen to the Word.
- To go for walks, which I find essential.
- To light a fire, which is also essential.
- To shop without hurry.
- To greet my neighbors, and visit with family and friends.
- To subscribe to a newspaper.
- To swim in the sea at least once a year.
- To read only good books.
After reflection, I developed my own living list.
- To watch the sun rise with a bold cup of coffee and to watch the sun set with a bold glass of red wine.
- To pursue truth in all things.
- To spend as much time as possible with my family and to rediscover the world through the eyes of a child when I’m with my granddaughter.
- To read abundantly—the classics, the page-turners, and the thought-provoking.
- To spend part of each day—even if a small part—cleaning, organizing, or tidying up because a cluttered environment clutters my contentment.
- To focus on living my life as the unique individual I am and not according to others’ expectations.
- To unapologetically car-dance every time a great song on the radio requires it.
- To attend as many live performances as possible—concerts and any live music, plays and musicals, speeches and book signings—to enjoy and honor the creativity of others.
- To arrive early for the Sunday Mass and to soak in the beauty of silence in a sacred place.
- To be there for others as often as I can and to forgive myself when, for whatever reason, I cannot.
- To wear expensive perfume daily.
- To look for God’s presence—which is always there—on good days and bad.
It seems absurd to have never given this a lot of thought. Maybe part of the problem is that thinking about what is personally wanted out of every day seems a little selfish.
But the message from d’Ors is that at the end of our journey, we will not feel selfish—only regretful—if our days were not treasured.
Hang on to your bucket list. But develop a daily living list, as well.
That will be a mission accomplished.
Note: Special credit to Father Ron Rolheiser and his column, “A Different Kind of Bucket List,” which enticed me to read d’Ors as well.