We live in the age of bucket lists, a term that went viral after the release of the 2007 American comedy ‘The Bucket List’. It was based on the lives of two terminally ill persons, who take on a road trip, with a wish list of things to do before they ‘kick the bucket’.
Today, open any social media platform, and you are bound to encounter a bucket list, be it of places to see, people you must meet, goals to achieve, books to read, dresses to own, food to eat and even fancy experiences to have before you die. The range of options is imaginative and expansive.
But I wonder, do we even need a bucket list. Don’t we have enough to see, do, or experience in our daily lives anyways.
Let’s begin with the regular Monday-to-Friday drill. We wake up (peacefully and sometimes not so peacefully), pray (maybe), flip through the newspaper (again maybe), eat breakfast (hurriedly), reach our workplace (impatiently), come back by early evening (hopefully), engage in a physical fitness activity (again hopefully), spend time with family, watch the idiot box or any live streaming service, and finally go to bed. These are the basic activities inundating our week days, with some variations caused by social functions, special skill-building classes or work-related travel cum meetings commitments.
Then comes the weekend. That day (being Sunday) or those two days (for those of us who are blessed), we have to catch up with the lost hours of sleep, get our house in order, replenish groceries, meet cousins or friends, enjoy theatre, or have dinner at an eatery, or undertake an adventure activity or visit a place of worship to ‘unwind.’ I am not even venturing into vacations or medical emergencies.
Now that we have a fair picture of how vacant our regular weeks are, I wonder once again: Why do we need bucket lists? Why should every single moment of our life be driven by an agenda? Why should other people decide the milestones of our life? For instance, do we need a bucket list to tell us that we need to eat a Gelato in Italy or run a marathon in every continent or get a tattoo or make a documentary about our best friend?
While it’s easy to dismiss such flighty bucket lists, there is no denying that they affect our subconscious, changing our perception of our life, fuelling aspirations that never existed in the first place, and making us feel inadequate. And before you know it, you have joined another rat race in your already demanding life.
What I find unfortunate is the way an ambitious bucket list can turn even leisure into a tedious chore. For example, a bucket list of places to visit before the end of 2017 or before you turn 30 or before you die or before whatever, can distort notions of what you might really want to do with the time at hand. Yes, we must experience various situations in life, but at our own pace untouched by the bucket lists.
Use bucket lists to generate new ideas but don’t allow them to hijack your idea of life. So in case you are trapped in the artificial desire to view the Northern Lights in Norway this December just because a bucket list claims that New Year’s eve couldn’t get any better than that, please unburden yourself. You may discover that you actually wish to simply sit and stare at the wall for an hour and feel happy about it.
This article was published at Hindustan Times.