Sept. 19, 2012 — Thanks to an excellent motion picture in 2007 featuring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the idea of a personal “bucket list” has become part of American culture.
So what exactly is a “bucket list”?
In the simplest of terms, it is a list of things a person wants to do before he or she dies (“kicks the bucket’) or becomes too old or infirm.
Nicholson and Freeman portrayed two terminally ill cancer patients who decide to break out of the hospital and live their last days to the fullest.
Nicholson’s character was arrogant, self-indulgent, rich, twice divorced and estranged from his only child and grandchild.
Freeman’s character was a humble but bright mechanic who had worked hard and sacrificed all of his life to support and educate his family.
Each man compiled a list of places he wanted to visit and personal experiences he wanted to have before dying.
Although it wasn’t on his list, Nicholson’s character secretly wanted to reconcile with his daughter and the grandchild whose existence he discovered during the movie.
In a not-so-surprising twist of fate, Nicholson’s illness goes into remission, giving him an opportunity to redeem himself as a loving father and grandfather.
Freeman’s character dies but only after he becomes the key player in Nicholson’s redemption, helping him rediscover his humanity and his family.
It strikes me that most, if not all of us, have been developing our own “bucket lists” of secret desires over the years.
That may help explain the “fantasy” baseball and other sports camps where adults pay fancy prices to wear a big league uniform and trot onto the outfield at Yankee Stadium.
And it gives insight into the collectors who spend tens of thousands of dollars to own the car or clothes of a dead rock star or actor.
The joy of developing and working through a “bucket list”, however, doesn’t have to result from a fatal illness or other calamity in our personal lives.
We should be going to places and having experiences because we’ve earned the right by raising our families and working hard in our jobs.
Those of us who’ve sacrificed for others – our children, our employer, etc. – deserve to enjoy our own lives and put ourselves first, regardless of our age or station in life.
I always chuckle at seeing bumper stickers on those big, expensive RV’s on the freeway that read:
“We’re spending our kids’ inheritance.”
So, how’s your bucket list coming along?