Lots of people are making Bucket Lists: things they want to do before they kick the bucket. There's a danger in doing that, and it's not just tempting fate. What happens if you don't do it all? Or any of it? Who wants to feel bad that they didn't get to Paris or Rome, that they never took that cruise to Alaska, that they never got to surf at Waikiki?
Yes, life is short and we should squeeze in all the living we can, but don't forget to reward yourself for all the things you didn't do. For every item you put on your Bucket List, you should put one on your Un-Bucket List -- the list of all the things you don't want to do before you die. Like taking a two-week vacation to North Korea. It may be on Dennis Rodman's Bucket List, but it's on my Un-Bucket List. Most of us can be pretty confident that we're never going to have to meet with Kim Jong Un before we die.
You may have "eat at a three-star Michelin restaurant in France" on your Bucket List. Fine, I hope it happens, but don't forget to put "eating raw, giant, slimy slugs" on your Un-Bucket List. Trust me, you'll be happy you did. Won't it make you happy when you reach the end of your days and you get to tell your friends and family that you never did that?
You want a romantic cruise through the Greek islands? A trip to the Galapagos? Who wouldn't? But let your Un-Bucket List show that you never took a cruise on the SS Norovirus, the SS Hit-A-Rock-And-Capsized, the SS Attacked-By-Pirates or the SS Took-Five-Days-To-Get-Towed-Back-to-Port. I know facing the end will be easier for me knowing that I never had to hire a lawyer to sue someone for a lousy vacation.
As you might have guessed, I've never really had good luck with Bucket List-type activities. I'm the guy who buys the lottery ticket every week and never wins, yet my friends think it would be a good idea for me to go skydiving. Well, not so much my friends as my wife. She is practically insisting on it. At least I'm only out five bucks when I lose the lottery. If my chute didn't open, I wouldn't even be around to ask for a refund, much less cross "skydiving" off my list.
My friend Bob has "climb Mount Everest" on his list. Bob is the kind of guy who will drive around the supermarket parking lot for 20 minutes looking for the open spot closest to the front door. The only way he will get to the top of Mount Everest is if the Sherpas carry him to the top in a heated sedan chair.
Not all Bucket Lists are focused on the exotic and the adventurous; some have deceptively simple things like "dance in the rain," "learn Spanish" or "say 'I love you' to someone every day." Some days, climbing Everest seems like a piece of cake compared to saying "I love you."
Should we be making these lists at all? Is it better to have one great thing to look forward to, or a hundred little things? Is the time you spent making your Bucket List time you could have spent at the beach? Maybe the rule should be that the only place we can write our Bucket Lists is Hawaii. At least that'd make them one line shorter. And if you live in Hawaii, you don't get to make a Bucket List at all. You're already livin' the dream.
Me, I'm going to stick with the Un-Bucket List. At least that way I know my obituary headline won't read "Bungee Cord Accident Kills Local Man," "Sharks Kill Novice Scuba Diver" or "Vesuvius Reburies Pompeii -- Thousands of Tourists Die."
Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.