Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Note on "Bucket Lists"

    Floreta recently posted what will be the beginning of her "bucket list."  She also talked a bit about how she wasn't sure why so many of these life lists focused on physical goals and adventures.  Looking back over my now-defunct 101 goals in 1001 days list, I am certainly guilty of that.  Most of the things that I wanted, and still want to do, all revolve around seeing, being and doing.  I want to climb mountains, run races, win fights, and travel to exotic locations.  The thing that is nagging at me a bit is that I am not really sure why I want these things.
    The easy answer is that I want these things because I enjoy them.  For hiking, backpacking, and climbing, I enjoy the challenge of it.  I enjoy getting away from the city and seeing naturally beautiful things.  For boxing, I enjoy the training even, and especially when it is at it's most grueling.  I enjoy know, so long as everything is going well.  Even if it doesnt, I always enjoy having competed.  For travel, I love seeing new places, exploring exotic locales, and checking out the ethnic women.  Plus, theres always the better than average chance of getting involved in some kind of adventure. 
    While I love all these different activities that will make up any life list that I ever take the time to make, a part of me loves them because I like the image of me that it creates.  I like being a traveler, outdoorsman, boxer.  And that seems a little shallow.  It should be enough that I do these things without the need to identify myself as such. 


floreta said...

Ah! Glad to make you think! This whole subject could really be a whole rant, but I felt like it would have been too involved to get into that. I'm not sure WHY I want to do these things as well. Obviously, it is the conundrum of ego; wanting to be artistic, adventurous, free-spirited, compassionate or what have you. but then it's the chicken and the egg.. do you want to do these things to seem this way, or because you ARE this way (adventurous, artistic, insert blank here, etc). what drives you? I feel like the physical goals and adventures in *particular* especially seem to be very much ego-driven. and not to be sexist, but the adventurer/outdoorsyness I find to be generally a male trait. There are less women interested in those things at least to the level of ego gratification a la Into the Wild. Not that this is right or wrong; just an observation and obviously, I'm just as guilty in wanting the physical goals/adventures myself. So I understand it's not exclusively male, as I'm sure I still have my extra X chromosome ;) but still, i hesitate to think of myself as 'adventurous' because i'm not "thrill seeking" or anything like that.

Alison said...

Mmmmm very deep Schatz. But i like your honesty.

I do think though that if you genuinely enjoy adventurous pursuits and challenges then you are to some extent an 'adventurous' person.

Looking at the things i want to achieve this year they are also travel, adventure and physical challenge related. Partly i suppose it is so i have good stories to tell people. But irrespective of this, after a while i always find myself looking for a new madcap challenge just because i like pushing myself - be it a new marathon, multi event charity challenge, adventure race etc (this year i'm doing the three peaks challenge, its been on my list for a while).

But mainly i think that i dont want to waste my time especially while i'm young, healthy and without responsibilities. I want to have great memories to look back on. i want to SEE places, MEET all sorts of people, DO all kinds of things. I look for crazy adventures and challenges cos these are the memories that will stand out - precisely because my everyday life is pretty mundane. Without them a lot of years could quite easily blur together at the end, and maybe i need the sense of achievement i get too. Basically when i'm old i want to know that i used my time well and got out there and DID some stuff i consider to be worth doing.

I do appreciate though that everyone gets enjoyment and gratification from different things. Some people would look back on a busy and successful career as being a worthwhile use of their time on this planet, others (and i know several) get all the sense of well being, reward and achievement you could ever hope to get by living their lives to give their kids the best they can.

Maybe others wont agree and maybe i am unusual in letting my own sense of mortality and old age drive me so much, i just dont want to waste NOW. I dont want regrets, in fact i dont believe in them. Anyway enough self analysis and soapboxing for today...

Deidre said...

I've been thinking about identities a lot (particularly those of single women) and I think you bring up a key issue. You enjoy these activities - and that should be it. What better way to define yourself than by the things you enjoy?

Martin said...

Wow, the comments on this one are a lot better than my original post.

Floreta - Definitely, ego is involved. Gender probably plays a big role as well. As you mentioned, guys may "tend" to want to be associated with more outdoorsy type adventures, while women may tend to want to be associated as fashionable, whatever. Their goals and life lists would probably reflect that.

Alison - Very deep, right? I almost made myself dizzy on this one. The need or want for "good stories" is HUGE for me. I want to be the grandpa that can tell all sorts of cool adventures to his grandkids one day. Also, the need to push myself while young and able is strong as well. I think we probably think very similarly in terms of why we do the things that we do. Its too bad UK people hate joy and laughter... ;)

Diedre - Good and simple point that makes a lot of sense. How else could you define yourself EXCEPT through participation in the things that you enjoy?

nicoleantoinette said...

This is such a poignant description of how I feel about my Life List. It's not like those 122 things are the *only* things I want to do (because much of life is completely intangible), but I know that if I do all of those things I'll be living the kind of life I want to live, being the kind of person I want to be.


Anonymous said...

I honestly think it says more to look at what you do, yet do NOT enjoy doing...for example, some form of your boxing training that you are NOT good at, yet you do anyway, we all have something.
These things are the points that really enhance and define us, not the shit we like and are good at.

Martin said...

Nicole - "but I know that if I do all of those things I'll be living the kind of life I want to live, being the kind of person I want to be." EXACTLY

Eric - True, you build character by doing the things that are hard to do. I'm not sure that it's separate though. For example, some parts of our training is monotonous, boring and miserable. By itself, it is not fun or enjoyable. Since its part of the bigger picture though, its easier to sacrifice.