Thu. May 30th, 2024

Favourite Things: The Bucket List

Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo

There is something slightly desperate about a bucket list, isn’t there? Things I Must Do Before I Die! Still, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of your ambitions for your life. It’s good to plan. But what sort of things go into a bucket list? A prime example and inspiration for this page was the bucket lists over on the List Challenges site. Some definite themes there are travel to exotic or famous places, daring, new or unusual experiences, and fulfilling personal achievements. They are often couched in very specific, personal terms, like Climb the Eiffel Tower, Learn to Play the Guitar or Watch a Ballgame at Fenway Park. I find it useful to break the list item down to its basic component first: namely, instead of being specific, like Climb the Eiffel Tower, be more general, like Climb a Famous Tower or Monument. Some people don’t want to climb the Eiffel Tower.

A good bucket list should tell us something about the person making the list. It should tell us their aspirations, their values, what they think is important in this life. It should also have some variety and some depth. It should reflect all the reasons we are on this planet, all the potential in our lives. Outside of religious reasons, which I mostly reject anyway (that’s right, God’s existence need not enter into this discussion), I think there are three basic reasons for our existence. One is to improve ourselves in some way, to learn skills, to become better, smarter, more compassionate people. Another is to make the most of life, to experience its many facets and joys, and to be happy. The last is simply to help other people. In this I do subscribe to the Christian-religious view that the poor, the suffering should be considered. Or, to put it more bluntly, that poverty and homelessness should (and could) be eradicated. And this means bucket lists shouldn’t all be about you and your desires – that happiness clause should not be at the expense of others. We are social animals, and it’s good to be community-minded, to see the larger picture. So a good bucket list should encompass at least some part of these three reasons.

Lastly, to put a nice Zen spin on it all, the most important item on your list will probably turn out to be the one that’s not on your list. Think about it. Many of the items I’ve included here on my list I’d never thought of as bucket list items. I just did them, or they happened to me, and I only later realised they were important, character shaping and fulfilling, memorable experiences. For example, one day I got up, went to work (I was a school teacher), and by the end of the day had met and shook the hand of an Apollo moon-walking astronaut. Sometimes we don’t know what we want or need. Sometimes we know it instinctively. Sometimes we just take what we can get.

This list mostly contains things I’ve done. There are a couple I’ve not done yet. Either way, it’s always getting bigger. It would be nice to die with all of them ticked off, but that’ll never happen. I’ll pass the unticked ones off to whomever wants to take up the challenge (c’mon, do it for me!). Time, as usual, is my one and only enemy in all this.

  • Shake hands with a famous person: Ray Davies (the Kinks) and Charlie Duke (Apollo astronaut)
  • Swim in a famous river or ocean or sea: the Great Barrier Reef, off Great Keppel Island, the Aegean, off the Isle of Paros. I think I glimpsed Homer
  • Go night swimming: The Ovens River, Bright, Victoria. Watch out for them snakes!
  • Work at a job you love: Library worker. Finally
  • Visit at least two different continents and your favourite cities: Paris, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Granada
  • See a Beatle: Sang along to Hey Jude with Paul McCartney, Marvel Stadium, 2023
  • See the Beach Boys: The 50 Anniversary Tour, Rod Laver Arena, 2011. Al Jardine’s voice is still strong. The others, not so much – especially Bruce Johnston. Sorry Bruce!
  • Walk a famous road or crossing: Shibuya scramble, Fifth Avenue, New York, The Hollywood Walk, The Vegas Strip, Abbey Road Crossing
  • See some famous vegetation: The Redwoods, Sequoias
  • Visit a national park. Yosemite, Sequoia, Joshua Tree
  • Ride a famous train: Shinkansen, from Tokyo to Kyoto.
  • Go to a drive in movie: For us oldies, this was standard
  • Sleep under the stars: A basketball court in Marseilles. Looked up at the stars and saw the Big Dipper.
  • See a play or ballet or concerts: Too many concerts and plays to name, but saw a ballet once – Romeo and Juliet
  • Write a book: Eye of the Timegate
  • Get a book officially published: still waiting, still writing…
  • Learn a musical instrument: I dabble in guitar, bass, keyboard and harmonica, but I’m not ticking them off as ‘done’ yet.
  • Learn another language: I know some Spanish, a very little Japanese. Still not ‘done’ yet either.
  • Form and perform in a band that plays nothing but anime theme songs: still pending
  • Go to Disneyland: Went to the original one in LA. The inner child was very happy
  • Stay at a famous hotel: Spent a night in room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn, 2010. Fans of Gram Parsons know what I mean
  • Ride a motor bike around a greek isle: Paros, 1990
  • See the white horses of Salisbury: Now I know the meaning of Chalkhills and Children, by XTC
  • Visit a famous grave: Jim Morrison at Pere La Chase, Paris. A drunk was sitting on his tomb, said ‘Rock n roll, man’. Very appropriate
  • Play a sport: Baseball, skiing, cricket. There’s nothing like stretching a single to a double with a slide into second base!
  • Watch a MLB ballgame: The old Yankee Stadium, New York, 1990. Yankees beat Orioles
  • Watch a MLB ballgame at AT&T Park: I’m a Giants fan. I saw the park in 2010, just after they won the World Series, so missed seeing a game.
  • Or Wrigley Field: Also a Cubs fan, and that is the classic baseball field, imo
  • Do something dangerous: Rode a horse (or it rode me), encountered a bear in the wild, at Sequoia and Yosemite. Define ‘dangerous’
  • Climb a tower, mountain or ancient ediface: Himeji Jo castle, Japan
  • Fly in a plane: Amazing how many people are too scared to
  • Be a DJ: Graveyard shift, 3RRR, 1986. The phone callers were nutty
  • Visit a palace or cathedral: Versailles, Notre Dame, Reims, France, St Paul’s, London
  • Pray at a shinto or buddhist shrine: Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo. I prayed for the soldiers my father killed in World War 2
  • Campaign for a political cause: Victorian Socialists in State Election, 2018
  • Go to Cuba: I must see if there really are no homeless people there (it’s a thing). Also, I have a recurring dream of dying in a Spanish-speaking land. So I’ll go there when I’m very old!

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *