1) Live Life Well. 2) Don’t Die A Stupid Death.

bucket head I don’t have a bucket list. Similar to New Year’s resolutions, I like the idea of the bucket list, and of course there are things I’d like to see, and a few more things I’d like to do before I go, but I don’t keep them on a list. I don’t need to remind myself to do something I want to do, unlike a to-do list that outlines all the things that are tedious, and if I could, would avoid doing at all.

Yesterday is an example of why a list doesn’t work:

I had plans with family to celebrate a birthday at a new restaurant getting a lot of buzz. Literally, as I was putting on my coat to walk out the door, I get a call to make sure I was wearing something warm, as well as a pair of comfortable shoes. I knew the restaurant had outdoor seating, but the day was not outdoor dining weather at all. And why comfortable shoes? Who cares what shoes I wear? Because I was wearing a darling pair of flats, I figured that was comfortable enough, when it suddenly hit me: The restaurant is located on the shores of a lake and very near a public dock. Sure enough, as a surprise for the birthday-person, there was a charter boat waiting at the dock. Oh, we ate at the restaurant; we just got it to-go on the boat. And I’m glad I changed into walking shoes and put on a sweater.

The point is, yesterday’s activity wasn’t on a list of things I must do before I die, and yet it will be counted as one of the happiest and fun days spent with family in a long while. Not everything happens because it’s on a list. And not everything that is on a list is achieved.

Take the original bucket list: A friend recently took a motivational course, and within the workshop materials was a copy of the original bucket list. The man who brought the common phrase/idea of the bucket list into our mainstream lexicon was an amazingly ambitious and motivated person. He drafted the list when he was just a teenager, and set about checking the items off from the get-go. He is dead now, so it was genuinely amazing to see how many items, from the very trivial to the magnanimous, were checked off.

But, what really struck me was the number of items he did not check off. Even he did not accomplish all he set out to do (granted, it was a pretty big list). I recognize the need, however, to focus on what is important in life, or rather, to not place undo priority on things that will not matter as much in the final analysis. No one wants to die with regrets.


Over the past four or five years, several cities have sponsored a temporary public art installation entitled, “Before I Die.” The interactive art project was conceived by American artist Candy Chang in response to her grief over losing someone close. She turned the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood into a giant chalkboard, allowing people to fill in the blank after the statement : “Before I die I want to …” It’s the kind of bucket list I like because it pulls people together as a community by sharing individual dreams and aspirations, inspiring others and, in some cases, making us laugh. Here are some responses from one installation:

Before I die I want to…

…change someone’s life for the better
…fall in love
… ride first class
…do what I don’t have the confidence to do
…be proud of myself
…think of myself as being smart
…adopt a penguin
…meet Big Bird

For more about the origin of the installation, go to: http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/.

One thought on “1) Live Life Well. 2) Don’t Die A Stupid Death.

  1. I have half a bucket list and leave half to chance. Sort of like your outing yesterday. It can’t become a chore list, and it can’t replace spontaneous or unexpected “best days.” Good post !


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