Eight Things to Do before You Die

the mountains around Aspen, CO in October.
The view from Smuggler Mountain, CO
The internet tells me to "bucket-list" my life. In other words, I should construct a mortal "to do" list, so that when my bones once again commune with the Earth, I won't have expired with nagging regret. The internet helpfully suggests what things to put on my bucket list (usually in groups of ten or one hundred (plus one for good measure, as if 100 weren't adequate):

"The 10 Places to You Must Visit Before you Die"
"101 Things to Do before you Die."

I don't care for these lists. They make me feel that I have squandered my life because I haven't circumnavigated the globe in a kayak, cliff dived Brazil, or swum with the penguins. In addition, these canned adventures require more wealth and free time than I have. Making lists of "must do" activities has it's place, to be sure. But we should frame these lists in the proper perspective: they are typically fantastical ego-boosters in which valuable resources are spent for self-gratification. And though I may take lots of selfies that garner envy on Facebook from my future bike trip through the Amazon, my impact on the world will be confined to one: myself.

Okay, so, I'm a killjoy... I admit it; part of my problem is that I have no desire to jump out of a perfectly good airplane (especially during the beverage service), nor do I wish to walk from Mongolia to Morocco. Besides, I can't overcome the fact that these activities are simply an extension of the American-juvenile-culture-of-vacuous-experiences-in-lieu-of-seeking-the-meaningful. We have outsourced our dreams to the machinery of mass media and the worship of a growth economy in which everything, including goals and aspirations, are pre-packaged into bite-sized morsels, monetized, and/or available vicariously via a cable TV show. And after the money is spent, the blisters healed, and the diarrhea has run its course, the question remains: will I have become the person to which I aspire if I do the 101 bucket-things?

the river flows from the mountain; follow it to its source
Hunter Creek, CO
On a recent hike in Colorado, I pondered the "bucket list" question along with its sinister cousin: "How would you live your life differently if your death were imminent?"

I made no progress with either.

After a time, I realized that I had reached no coherent conclusion because these questions were red-herrings. They were still part of the pseudo, self-help clap-trap of the modern cultural bullhorn.

I rephrased the question to better effect:

"Would you make different choices if life were imminent?"


My Bucket List, or Top Eight Things to Do before I Die:

1. Learn to love unconditionally
2. Bring more happiness than sadness to others
3. Make the most of  a bad situation, instead of succumbing to victim-hood
4. Commit random acts of kindness without credit
5. Speak truth to power
6. Understand what the real questions of life are
7. Use my influence to help those with none
8. Have a transcendent experience

If you found this post helpful (or not), I'd like to hear from you. Send me an email at d@dsborden.com.

#bucketlist #transcendence #happiness #love #hiking #nature #life #meditation #joy #kindness #truth


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