I love the idea of a bucket list. Compiling all the grand schemes and absurd hopes that you could dream of doing and putting them down on a piece of paper to accomplish throughout your lifetime seems like the iconic way to live large.
I want to be someone who lives large. It’s something I write in my journal daily as I hope and plan and scheme. Dream big. Shoot for the stars. Live to the hilt. We hear these phrases often. College graduations, business motivational speeches, bumper stickers. We’re living in a culture that puts tremendous stock in a bucket list lifestyle.
But the funny thing seems to be the disconnection between living out your dreams and living out your daily life.
Think about it. What would be on your bucket list?
- Travel the world
- Learn a second language
- Read all the classics
- Road trip across America
- Go Sky diving
- Run a marathon
- Publish a book
- Ride in a helicopter
- Go on a cruise
- Go skinny dipping in the ocean
- Sled down a ski slope
- Climb the Eiffel tower
The items on bucket lists tend to be large, dreamy, and, for the most part, one-time excursions to do on the days you are taking a break from the daily grind.
Because who has the time and resources to live a bucket list lifestyle?
Take a look at your bucket list – real or hypothetical. What is the motivation behind the items written down? Is it because it will further your financial status? Probably not. Is it because it would look good on a resume? Possibly. More likely than not however, the items that fill any one’s bucket list are the things they think will make them come alive. There’s nothing like crossing a finish line after a big race, or the feeling of splashing into a lake at the foot of a cliff. There’s a joy that swells in your heart when being on top of a mountain or looking over a city all lit up at night. Stamps in passports and tickets in scrapbooks add a largeness to this life that seems hard to find in day to day living.
We’re all after a life that seems rich with passion. We want experiences that makes us come alive. We want to watch our souls take flight. And yet, except the occasional vacation and the few and far between adventures we take, I sense a general sense of drudgery as we walk through life. Monday morning gripes, counting down the hours until the bell rings, and ‘thanks goodness its Friday’ seem to be the tone in most of our conversations.
Some of us live this way because there doesn’t seem to be another option. Bills have to be paid. We have to graduate from school. The kids have to be fed. The chores have to be done.
And some of us live this way because we are trying desperately hard to make an impact in this world. So we become doctors or missionaries or business people or lawyers because we have a sense of duty, a feeling of obligation to do something big and important and significant, a desire to meet the needs of the world. And we wonder why we feel so drained and listless and heavy hearted. We wonder why the bucket list feels like a world away, why our dream of a big life seems to be deflated and void of vivacity. Are we even making an impact anywhere?
“Don’t’ ask what the world needs,” theologian Howard Thurman wrote. “Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”
We hear these words and think it is about the career we choose. It’s really not. You could have your dream job and achieve everything you boldly set out to do, and still not be alive. Or you could be working as a barista to pay the bills and find your heart’s passion in other outlets. The mattering part is not what job you have or degrees you hold or career you’re pursuing. The mattering part is whether or not you are doing that which makes you come alive in some shape or form on a daily basis. Because that is when you will begin meeting the world’s needs.
I am convinced that a grocer who is alive with passion is going to make a brighter mark on this world than a doctor who is deadened with apathy.
So make your bucket list. But don’t make it for a time in the distant future when you’ve retired or moved or finished school. Make it for tomorrow. Do what makes you come alive on your simple Tuesday and watch how the flame it lights in your belly reaches every person you encounter.