The first time I ever heard the phrase “Bucket List” was in the 2007 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman by that name. Before then I had some things I wanted to do, but nothing as formal as a bucket list. The truth is most of my life I had no expectations of being happy. For me, life was no more than an endurance contest to be survived by being “a good productive member of society.” Sure, I’d try to sneak in an as much fun as possible but it didn’t seem like that happened much and the older and more “responsible” I became, it almost stopped totally. One thought had been trained into me my whole life, “When I get old, then I can retire and I’ll be happy.” But that was so far away and so uncertain, that I didn’t give it much thought.
But vandwelling changed everything for me. Until then, my life was so limited by a lack of money, I simply had no choices. My only options were, 1) go to a job I hated 40 hours a week or 2) I could be homeless. Even as dissatisfied as I was with my life, I could see that being homeless was even more miserable, so, like most Americans, I took the lesser of two evils.
Fortunately, vandwelling proved to me that it was possible to live so cheaply that I could actually hope to be happy; I could have some modest dreams and see them come true. At the minimum I could cut my hours at the job I hated, so I did that and immediately I was happier. That lay me stay at and endure a job I hated until early retirement age. As soon as I could I retired and my small pension allowed me to have my most basic dreams come true. I started living on the road and traveling part of the year. I needed more disposable income to make more of my dreams come true, so I got a job that I loved as a campground host and worked half the year and took half the year off, drew unemployment and relaxed. My life bloomed and became very good and, dare I say it, happy!
This was all before I knew about a bucket list, today I can look back and see that vandwelling gave me so much economic freedom that I could live and do the things I wanted to do. For the first time I could actually consider keeping a bucket list and actually doing some of the things on it.
Do you have a bucket list? Do you have dreams for your life that have been a part of you for a long time? If you do, what are you doing to make them come true? If you aren’t doing anything, why not?
I’m not surprised by how few people have a bucket list. After a lifetime of struggling to make ends meet or saving up for one vacation trip a year, most of us have abandoned our hopes and dreams, “This is as good as it gets, so why fight it?” Most of us have been so beat down by lack of money and other limitations our dreams are either dead or on life-support.
That’s not good! What truly separates humans from other animals is not tool use, but our imagination. We can see an object and in our mind imagine a new and different use for it. We can move forward in space and time and imagine what’s going to happen next or move backward in time and space and remember what has gone before; “When that happened, this other thing followed, how can I make that happen again?”
Our imagination, our ability to dream, is what makes us human and without it we are just ants in a colony or drones in a beehive. We are here to experience joy in our lives, and to share it with others. Following our dreams is the best way to find joy! If you give up your dreams, you give up your humanity. Your dreams don’t just make you special, they make you spectacular!
I’m going to be doing a series of posts on keeping a bucket list and making your dreams come true. I’m hoping to encourage and re-inspire you to re-adopt the sense of wonder and hope that we all once had as children. To find again the spark of life that screams out in your heart that your life can be full of joy and unlimited possibilities. Maybe it’s too late to be an astronaut or President, but you can still be much more than you are now. You can have dreams and they can come true.
I want to give you an example of what I mean by sharing with you the things on my bucket list that I’m hoping to do this winter. This is a very tentative list and it’s unlikely I will do all of them but I certainly plan to do some of them. As you read them, notice they aren’t big, earth-shattering things that will cost a fortune (one is fairly big and difficult so it is the least likely to happen). I did the big expensive things last summer in Alaska, so these are simple, easy and relatively inexpensive things. But they are all things that have meaning to me and will bring me joy even if they aren’t big and expensive.
- Go to Albuquerque for the annual Balloon Festival.
- From there got to Moab and go rappelling off a cliff and possibly true white-water rafting.
- Go to Zion and hike Wall Street.
- Go to Toroweep and photograph the Grand Canyon.
- Go to the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR at Socorro, New Mexico. This one is written in stone.
- Spend February in Florida with my mom and photograph birds.
- Take a whale watching tour in California
- Photograph tide-pools off the coast of California.
- Photograph Monarch butterflies in Southern California.
- Drive to San Ignacio Bay in Baja, Mexico and touch, pet and photograph whales.
- Learn bird photography.
- Learn macro photography.
- Learn to take lightning photos.
- Learn to photograph star-trails and the Milky Way.
- Learn to play the Native American flute.
You may be thinking, “Why tell us about them if you may not go?” I have three reasons:
- In case any of you would like to join me in part or for all of it, telling you now gives you some time to prepare. I’ve found caravanning with others to be somewhat difficult, so if it happens, it will be a very loose caravan.
- Because these are all new things to me and I’m hoping some of you have done them before and can give me some feedback about the details of where, when and how to do them. The information I get from you may make the trip possible this winter
- Giving you ideas of things to add to your bucket list. It’s possible these ideas will be as new to you as they are to me so I want to introduce them to you.
So that is an introduction to bucket lists, in future posts we will look at how to find thing for your bucket list and how to make the come true.
I’d love it if you write a comment and tell us some of the things on your Bucket List and what you are doing to make it happen.