Health Homework (10) Live your bucket list now… or at least as soon as possible
Few experiences are of the same magnitude of impact as watching a parent die — life’s way of saying, “You’re next.” We never know when life --or the world-- is going to change for the worse.
Your bucket list isn't going to fulfil itself; you have to live it when you “have” —when you make, when you create, when you force— the time and opportunity.
“Jump into experience while you are alive! Think and think while you are alive. What you call 'salvation' belongs to the time before death.”
Bucket list has been a known phrase for many decades but it became more popular in 2007 with the movie of the same name, in which two men explored their impending demise and their desire to fulfill their wildest and most heartfelt dreams before “kicking the bucket.”
One of my favorite movie lines comes from Platoon in 1986, “Hey, white boy, what you waiting for? That hole ain't gonna dig itself,” which I have repeated to myself many times when I am writing my books, “Hey, white boy, that book ain't gonna write itself.”
"That hole ain't gonna dig itself" = you have to dig it = you have to actively go after the things that you want. That book isn't going to write itself; you have to dedicate time and attention to write it. A bad relationship or argument isn't going to fix itself; you have to actively repair it. Your bucket list isn't going to fulfil itself; you have to live it while you have the chance.
Your bucket list isn't going to fulfil itself; you have to live it when you have —when you make, when you create, when you force— the time and opportunity.
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Happiness, growth, and generosity are the only true victories; but we have to actively pursue, attain and share them through conscious decision-making and effort
I suppose that I was somewhat lucky to have been wrongfully terminated from my dream job for the accidental discovery of administrative thievery, but what I rebranded as “my early retirement” (sounds and feels better than wrongful termination) enabled me to live with my father in South America for a while and then live in the heart of medieval Barcelona immediately thereafter. While my former bosses were cooing over their power games, stealing from their customers, frauding their accreditations, and working in suits and offices (ie, large cubicles) for 50 hours per week, I was enjoying squid-ink paella on the beach with my mom while overlooking the Mediterranean Sea between casual strolls to-and-fro between beautiful medieval architecture, Enlightenment-inspired public art and plazas, and art nouveau facades and faces; typically I was engaged 12-16 hours a day hammering out books and videos as fast as I could—essentially providing me intellectual-teaching fulfilment in the mornings-afternoons and aesthetic-social happiness in the evenings. I was lucky, and I knew it, but I had also made a decision to contribute to my own good fortune and happiness through hard work and good choices; I could’ve chosen the other more modest option of living in a boring city and working a dead-end corporate job in a gray cubicle. Unknown to anybody at that time was the fact that Europe would begin to collapse just a few years later under the guise of an international pandemic; so if I hadn’t taken the opportunity when I saw it neither I nor anyone in my small extended family could’ve enjoyed the opportunity of living/traveling in Europe while it was still free. We never know when life or the world are going to change for the worse.
I saw my mom leave quite a few items unchecked from her bucket list
My mom spent a good portion of her life holding on to and dragging around ideas and memories that culminated in constant anxiety and chronic mild depression, which danced back-and-forth with anger, insecurity, and righteous indignation. I’m sure some people will bemoan that these are inescapable parts of the human condition; while that’s true, I think a more empowered perspective is to say that we can all have those experiences but we need not let them tear, stain, and definitively mark the fabric of our life experiences. Even though she had plenty of time and resources to explore some shallow interests or deeper passions and to check a few items off of her bucket list, she almost invariably stayed stuck in the same routine with the same small unfulfilling activities and interactions occupying her days. An infinity of days filled with unfulfilling gestures results in zero growth and an unsatisfying life experience. When she developed a notorious 6-month cancer, many of her last conversations were those of “I never did that” or “I’ve always wanted to…” – things that she always could have done but never did.
Also noted: I’m grateful for all that I received from her having been my mother, and I tried periodically and always unsuccessfully to help her outgrow, overcome, and release those invisible restraints, obstacles and burdens that she carried with her wherever she went. I’m grateful that she was able to manage her final days without too much distress — final days made all the more difficult because I had Covid (for 24 hours) in the final week of her life and had to balance trying to spend time with her while not spreading the commercialized bioweapon to her or anyone in the hospital.