Never finish a bucket list

Yet another speech I wrote for Toastmasters:


If you accomplish everything you wanted to do in life, would you stop trying to find exciting things to do?  Would you sit in your house, satisfied with life and knowing you excelled? My hope for you is that the answer to both those questions is “NO, of course not. I would continue to find something new and exciting to do or learn as long as I am able”. 

A few years ago, some friends and I made a “bucket list”. If you don’t know that term, it was originally a list that terminally ill patients made of things they wanted to accomplish before they no longer had the strength.  The list my friends and I made was not so dark. It was more of an adult version of “What I want to do when I grow up”.  Most of my friends had life events on their list such as “get married” or “have children”. The rest of us made lists of places we wanted to go and things to do.

Almost a year went by, and I had forgotten about the list. I was looking for a file on my computer and saw the bucket list again. I realized I had put off my whole list for work.  I decided to cross a couple things off my list.  Near the top of the list was “Visit Stonehenge, the Guinness Brewery, and kiss a woman on the Eiffel Tower”. I had recently been given a settlement from a car wreck and I decided to invest in a Roth IRA and prepare for my future. Ha, who am I kidding? I bought a round trip ticket to London , Dublin, and Paris.

I was so excited. I was going to see Stonehenge, the biggest henge ever. I got on the tour bus and we went to Stonehenge.  I am not sure what I was expecting. I was not immediately imbued with mystical energy.  I did not see some sort of astounding secret image. It turns out it looks exactly like the pictures everyone has seen, except a little smaller because tourists aren ’t allowed to get very close.  I went through the tunnel from the parking lot and there it was, one of the wonders of the world.  Just before the entrance was a tour bus driver and taxi driver lounge.  I walked quickly by in my excitement, but I glanced over at the lounge and saw the most bored looking people I have ever seen.  They had been to Stonehenge hundreds of times and they had lost their excitement.  To add  to the adventure, the tour bus had been stuck in traffic and we only had 45 minutes to see Stonehenge. I did the “Stonehenge Jogging Tour”, bought a magnet, and got back on the bus. We went back to London and the next day I took a day trip tour to Paris.

I get to see the most romantic city in the world, as defined by people who apparently lost their sense of smell.  Oh well, it is still Paris in the spring and it is romantic and…I don’t have a wife or a girlfriend, whoops.  I enjoyed the tour and we go to the Eiffel Tower.  About ten seconds into the Eiffel Tower tour I realized two things. First, there is a giant crowd of stinky people on the Eiffel Tower, making me not want to kiss anyone ever. Second, I was the only single person on the tour and I was more interested in the elevator than the ”romance” of the location. Don’t make too many assumptions, that elevator is awesome.

I went back to London and flew to Dublin the next day. Again, I was excited. “I get to see where that divine ambrosia called Guinness” is made!  I went on the brewery tour and was surprised to find out that it looks like… a brewery. 

I had a great time on that trip, but my anticipation of the trip was greater than my excitement after the trip.  When I got back, I had crossed things off my bucket list. I realized that I had almost completed my list in the few years since I had made it.  I had a choice. I could be content with what I accomplished or start a new list of things I want to do.  I chose to make a new list. I chose that I would not be content with past accomplishments.  This time I modified the rules for the list. Now I make certain that I add a place or task every time I complete one. I also added smaller goals. While I still want to scuba dive off a tropical island something that will cost thousands, I also want to learn to juggle, something that will cost about $20.  This allows me to keep striving to learn even if I don’t have a large amount of cash or time available. (What I like to call “a normal day”)

I will admit, I don’t live every day as if I am rising to a challenge or racing to meet a goal. Some days, the biggest challenge is taking my feet out of my toasty blankets and putting them on the cold floor.  If I let a week go by and I have not thought of some of my life’s goals, then the next week it is even easier to forget about them. Eventually, I am allowing life to slip by without putting up any sort of a fight. I have been a little disappointed in the reality of some of the places I have visited not matching my expectations.  I would rather be a little disappointed and still have that excitement of doing something I wanted to do than sit in my house and wave to life as it passes me by.  In order to do that, I can never allow my bucket list to get completely crossed off. I always want to add that one…new…thing.


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