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Bucket List and other evils

Bucket list - Truly livingImage:Keerati

The bucket list has become pretty popular in the last few years.  It has encouraged and pushed people to achieve many lofty goals.

If you are new to the bucket list, they are lists people create containing things they want to do before the ‘kick the bucket’ and often include really grand things.

The idea behind the bucket list is that when a goal is written down, it is more likely to happen.

And it’s true

Writing goals down on a bucket list, and telling others does make you more likely to actually do it.

So, I am not against the bucket list, but I think it can become an excuse for living.

I ran into this article on MSN a few weeks ago about baby boomers with bucket lists that are having some bad accidents and … coming a bit to close to the actual ‘bucket’.  Jumping from airplanes, bull riding, and motorcycle riding were all listed as things ‘older’ people are doing to complete bucket lists before they die.

Don’t be these people

I can’t know what any of them have done in their life, but they seem to sense a need to take big risks and are seeking an adrenaline rush.    Maybe they are dealing with a mid-life crisis or somehow wanting to better define or discover themselves.

But this kind of living isn’t meant to be corralled into a few crazy acts written on a sheet of paper, it is meant to be lived.

Many people live a life that feels monotonous – same boring job, same boring place, same boring food, same boring TV, same boring house, same boring schedule….. fill in whatever else you need to.  These kind of people may feel the need to make a dramatic and risky escape now and then to balance things out.

But I don’t, and you don’t need to either

Life Beyond the Bucket List

Life is an adventure, growth is full of risks, and purpose is full of challenges.  There is no need to jump from a plane to get your heart pounding.

As I write this I am finishing up a book on homeschooling that is due out next spring and every day I sit down to work on it I am both excited and scared.  I love what I am doing, and the interviews I have been doing with other homeschoolers have brought tears to my eyes and given me new motivation in my own family.  But on the other side I am terrified the book is going to suck, the publisher will send it back, or everyone who reads it will hate it.

While this isn’t ‘risk’ like riding a bull, this is a risk when it comes to vulnerability, and opening myself up to failure… this still gets the heart pounding.

For the last four months we have been in China and we are starting off on a two month adventure during our summer break helping out some charities we found.  I have agreed to do some speaking and other than that we don’t know what we are facing.  All four of us are excited!  Just purchasing our train tickets yesterday was an adventure.

There are lots of other things I want to do, but I want to be living them instead of checking them off a bucket list.  I want them tied into my purpose instead of creating an excuse for a picture or buying a postcard.

I want a life of following God, facing things that are scary, looking the risk of failure in the eye, and riding the wave of life through it all.

When I grow old, if I get the privilege, I want to have great stories to tell my grandchildren, but I can’t see any of the really good ones being from a bucket list.

I can see stories starting:

  1. I remember when I was running through the jungles of Papua New Guinea and eating coco off the tree (not the seeds but the jelly around the seeds is good fresh).
  2. I remember playing piccolo on the steps of the Capital Building in Washington D.C.
  3. I remember getting married on a tiny budget but a lot of love.
  4. I remember when both my babies were born and the complications they both ran into.
  5. I remember when we bought a house that had been repossessed and had no working plumbing and major water damage and completely remodeling it into our dream house.
  6. I remember when we lost our job and decided to become self-employed in construction when we knew the housing market was heading downward.
  7. I remember wandering the streets of Belfast with some German colleagues on St. Patrick’s day.
  8. I remember when we hiked through Boston for 14 miles and had Chinese for breakfast, Italian for lunch, and Asian for supper.
  9. I remember wandering the streets in Singapore while waiting for a connecting flight and missing a flight in London.
  10. I remember when we took our strong babies and hiked down the Grand Canyon eating skittles all the way.
  11. I remember when we drove down through the outer banks in North Carolina as hurricane sandy was approaching.
  12. I remember when I tried to publish my first book, signed my first book contract with a publisher and I hit the 100,000 mark for total copies.
  13. I remember when we sold and gave away almost everything we owned and climbed on a plane to live in a small city in China.
  14. I remember when we went for a hike in the mountains in China and we ended up wandering for almost 20 km with guides that we couldn’t communicate with.

… I could go on about China.  And hopefully the list more than doubles as this only represents the first 15 years of adulthood.  These aren’t things I set out wanting to do, these are things we ran into living life – growing, exploring, dreaming, and moving forward.

Living is exciting, scary, rewarding, and unpredictable.  You can live on the sidelines where it is safe… and then seek excitement later doing life-threatening things…

or you can choose to embrace a life of growth, living according to a purpose, moving into the possible risk of failure.

There are always dishes, always laundry, always eating and sleeping, but if you keep your eyes open for new opportunities, new ways to grow and learn, new things to try, life won’t be boring and you will find a life specially designed for you … and it probably won’t include jumping out of planes or bull riding.


  1. You are so right, Lorilee!

    Living a life with meaning and passion is much more valuable than crossing off a “bucket list.”

  2. Laura Laura

    So true. I am 30 and have not yet reached the “jumping from a plane” stage, but I have had tastes of “I want to leave everything behind and live simpler” or more recently due to a certain someone “I want to pack up and move to another country for a year of my life” 😉

    There are still a few things holding me back from “living” the life I want, but I hope I never feel the need for a bucket list with set things on it. Like you, I want things to just be. Just happen. Spontaneous but intentional.

  3. Love this perspective, Lorilee. I’ve never made a bucket list because I don’t want to be tied down to a list of things I thought I needed to do. It can only lead to disappointment if you don’t do those things, and you miss all the gifts and blessings happening in the meantime.

    • MarieG MarieG


  4. Lindsay Lindsay

    Love this!! And for me, some of those “ordinary” things are becoming the most extraordinary…just like you said, “things we ran into while living life.” I think that’s how life with Christ always is. When you seek to live your life for yourself, for your next thrill, you are always going to come up short in the end, needing something bigger and better to top it (or more money to fund it ;)). True life is that surrendered to Him, and you just never know where He will take you next! 🙂

  5. What a great way to rethink the Bucket List! I did a list a year ago after the urging of a friend. But, she also urged me to write a list about cool stuff I’ve done in my life. I thought my life was pretty ordinary until I came up with my list. One memory just rolled into another until I had a pretty cool list indeed. Just yet another way to think about it!

  6. MarieG MarieG

    This is exactly why I recently gave up “goals”. Much like bucket lists I feel like they set one up for disappointment and missing out on the spontaneity of life. It doesn’t mean I don’t accomplish anything throughout life, but that I am not pigeon holed into some predetermined list.

  7. I’d like to offer a different perspective.

    I don’t have a bucket list, but I’ve done a couple of the things you think are a little crazy, namely, learned to ride a motorcycle and jumped out of an airplane.

    Well, I didn’t actually jump. I probably would not have been brave enough to. It was a tandem skydive, so all I had to do was FALL out of the plane, being attached to the guy who DID jump. (LOL – I was fine until we got to the plane door…eek!)

    I didn’t do either thing out of a need to take a big risk or for an adrenaline rush.

    I did them both because every year I try to do one thing that scares me, to overcome my fears. A lot of my fears probably seem silly to most people.

    This year my wild and crazy thing was a spinning (spinning wheel not, not bike pedaling) retreat.

    It was scary to me because I’m shy and I was spending 3 days and 2 nights with a bunch of people I’d never met before, and I was a brand new spinner.

    I went skydiving one time only, in tandem, with a company with a great safety record (yes, I researched it first) on a day with perfect weather.

    The fun part for me was the gentle float down, seeing the beautiful views of multiple snow-covered mountains, forests and farms. All but the first minute (free fall) is incredibly peaceful.

    I learned to ride a motorcycle by taking a highly respected class, and wore full gear: full helmet (not those teeny helmets the Harley riders wear so often), boots, gloves, leather jacket, etc.

    You know what I got a HUGE rush from? The fact that I learned to do something so incredibly difficult for me.

    At the beginning of the class, I was about to cry. I couldn’t figure anything out, not even where to put the key in (it happened to be in a different place on my bike than everyone else’s), and it was cold (about 30 degrees).

    I’m not a coordinated person, and everything the instructors asked us to do seemed impossible. I thought I would never learn to shift with my toes and operate the clutch with my hand. No matter how many times the instructors fussed at me, I was too scared to take my hand fully off the hand brake.

    Suddenly, about 3 hours into the class, something clicked and I started to get it. I ended up passing the class and earning my motorcycle endorsement, which only about half the class did.

    As it turns out, I don’t enjoy motorcycle riding. It’s tiring, the vibration hurts my arms, and I’m always either too hot or too cold. Even if I did like it, I would never dare go on a highway or interstate – I’m way too safety conscious for that.

    But I am so incredibly proud of myself for sticking it out and learning to do it.

    And THAT’s why I push myself.

    • Yes, facing fears is a really good practice 🙂

    • Luna McB Luna McB

      Christy, Congratulations on earning your motorcycle license endorsement. I attempted to take the basic rider course once but only made it half way through…just like you, I was a was TOTAL novice and had no experience, even at age 50)…I dropped out of the course as I felt that I was not in control of my bike and feared that I would end up hurting myself or someone else in the class if I continued. The instructors told me to stick it out, but sometimes you just have to go with your gut and do what is right for you. Kudos on having the courage to stick it out until everything just came to you…rock on girl!!! 🙂

  8. Katelyn Katelyn


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