7.24.2009

A Realistic Bucket List


Seems "bucket lists" are all the rage lately. Not sure if this term was around for a while or debuted with the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman film of the same title. Regardless, it kind of irks me that it is swirling around everywhere like so much the latest hot handbag or must-have designer. While I love self-help and goal-setting content as much as the next gal (yes, I read Eckhart Tolle. Back off.), I'm always leary when it takes the form of a blind fad or trend. Shouldn't those themes be much more consistent and ongoing throughout our lives?

As the one year anniversary of my brain hemmorraghe draws closer, however, I'm still trying to figure out what it all means - and if it really means anything anyway. As I distance myself from the immediate needs and recovery of the event - which were all about getting back to daily living - I am entering a second phase of more thoughtful perspectives around the whole thing. Why did I survive? Why is my recovery going so much more miraculously than someone who has 3 children relying on them? If it was not "my time" yet, than what the heck am I meant to do here? What am I not "finished" with?

Answers abound. My husband, who truly understands how lucky we are but is not a spiritual guy, will tell you "This happened because your artery was weak due to genetics and high blood pressure and it burst. You are okay now because we got you to the hospital in time and the doctors were amazingly skilled. End of story." Or maybe it's just as simple as what my friend Melanie, who I had not seen in person in 10 years and just caught up with over dinner, said the other night, "Maybe you are still here so on this night, in this city, we could catch up over dinner and you can entertain me." I like that answer.

Which brings me back to bucket lists. I feel in this "renaissance of enlightenment", we are just putting too much darn pressure on ourselves to "live our best life." I am all about going after you want, not waiting, experiencing all you can experience. But in my life, the adventures have happened pretty organically. Sure, intention and goals are great things. But when they start to consume you, to make you feel like you are less of a person if you don't accomplish them, that's where I have a problem.

My recovery has been all about being gently with myself, setting realistic goals, and not overwhelming myself with too much. I think this is a good way to live, brain injury or not. So rather than some of the more lofty bucket lists out there that seem to taunt and stress out many of us and make us feel like we are not doing, being, seeing enough, here is a simple bucket list. It is doable, achievable and can still enrich your life greatly. You're welcome.

1. Ensure you have at least one person in your life who understands you, accepts you for who you are, and who makes you laugh. Just one will do. Could be a lover, parent, sibling or friend. If you don't have someone like this, make it your mission to find him or her.
2. Spend at least one night of your life falling asleep to, and waking up to, the ocean. Wherever that might be.
3. Next time you are on a plane, bus or train with a rambunctious toddler or fussy baby, try to make them smile. Just once.
4. Call one long-distance friend a week. Not email. PHONE. If you can't call, write a hand-written note.
5. Adopt a pet once in your life and give them a happy, loving home.
6. Say thank you to every bus driver or cabbie when you get off the bus/out of the cab.
7. Once a day, ask one clerk, be it barista or cashier, "How are you doing today?"
8. Have one dinner outside on a warm summer night with friends, wine, candles and great conversation.
9. Each time you talk to a family member or a close friend, say "I love you" at the end of the conversation. You never know if it might be the last time.
10. Every year, make one trip to a place you've never been or somewhere out of your comfort zone. This could be another U.S. city, a foreign country, or it could be based on accomodations: if you are a hotel person, go camping. Try it for perspective.

1 comment:

melanie said...

Thanks for the shout out! I loved seeing you - and you are ALWAYS one of my first reference points of inspiration. You always were - way before your superhero dance with death and amazing recovery. This shows it wasn't just because you made smart decisions - but because you were always conscious about other people and simply do the right thing. Love you! xoxoxo