I don’t have a bucket list. That phrase doesn’t make sense to me: how can a bucket be a list? Anything related to a bucket would be chaotic, a mess, a blob, a pile, certainly not a list with bullets and indents. Also, as a city (or suburban) woman, I’ve rarely used a bucket, so why would I use one to contemplate the things that I may, on occasion, daydream about?
On a non-literal level, I’m easy on myself. I have no desire to do something that scares me or could kill me even more than driving in southern Florida. I don’t get what’s accomplished—what you get out of—jumping from anything, be it a bridge, a ledge, or an airplane. Overcoming fear? If you’ve gotten to the age when people around you talk about their bucket lists, then you’ve surely done plenty of things that were scary in your day-to-day living. Why push fate? Anyway, isn’t it more about you trusting in whatever technology is used and the people who used it as opposed to you doing something that proves you’re stronger than you thought? So how is that validating? Why not just take a deep breath, acknowledge where you’ve been, where you are, and have a nice meal to celebrate survival, and then contemplate what is yet to come?
I don’t even have a “Places to Visit” list because it doesn’t matter. So what if I never get to Australia, which I dreamed about visiting after watching Walkabout when I was a girl. Anyway, the girl who was moved by that movie is a different version of me—do I want to visit Australia or am I simply holding onto her desire? Besides, I think my response to that movie was about wanting to be somewhere completely different, to have an adventure. Does it have to be in Australia where I was fascinated by two kids who have a very sad adventure after they’re abandoned in the Outback by their father who commits suicide? I did live in an entirely different place where I walked around its semi-arid landscape and had adventures, so mission accomplished, sort of.
Maybe if we think about what our goals and destinations represent, it could prevent disappointment and clinging to outdated notions of ourselves. What we need to do is realize how far we’ve come in our lives and what we’ve done—dare I say accomplished (this really is a note to self)—and not look to do more before taking stock and reassessing. Which, of course, needs to be free of competitive accounting, which, I dare say, is often the culprit in contemplating goals. Again, does it matter where I’ve had delightful days, as long as I’ve had a few?
A few months ago, I realized that in all the places I’ve lived: New York City, Buffalo, the Tel Aviv area, Northern Virginia, and now the West Palm Beach area, I’ve never gone to all the guidebook-worthy places. Now, I’m determined to change that. Walk in nature, a city, a quaint town. Go to a museum. Discover foods and restaurants. The focus now is on where I live as opposed to seeking to do the same things I like to do after having spent a lot of time, money, and anxiety, to just get from here to there. With home as my base, I have the benefit of returning to my comfy space after the hours of exploration. Do I feel challenged? Why do I need to be? I’m enjoying exploring without discomfort. Am I really a better version of myself if I’ve managed to get from the airport to a hotel to a tourist site to a nice restaurant and have even stood up for myself if something went wrong?
At the base of all these places to visit and things to do should be an understanding of what I need to feel that I’m not standing still as a person. More times than not, that happens sitting on the balcony writing. Of course, the writing is informed by the meanderings, even if they only took me around the block. Perhaps appreciation of what we have and who we are matters more than checked lists of places seen. What does it say about us if we can’t appreciate experiences that happen close to home?