A few years ago now, I started daily journaling. Part of that involved putting together, amongst other things, a bit of a bucket list. You know the one, a list of things I decided I needed to do in my lifetime.
At the time it was quite an exciting prospect.. you mean I can do anything? Yes. Skydiving? Sure thing. Northern Lights? Absolutely. In fact I still have that ‘bucket list’, looking back I have ticked a few things off it, but here’s the kicker – I could’ve quite easily died without doing them and not felt any regret. They were just items on a list of things I felt I needed to complete my life, and really objectively thinking about it, I now find that a bit of a ridiculous way to live.
Part way through transcending into a rather deep meditative state in an authentic tipi, watching the moon through the hole in the top, breathing in the campfire and sinking into a sound bath of live didgeridoos I realised that this experience wasn’t on my list. In fact, I couldn’t have dreamed it up if I tried. Yet it was much more powerful and enriching than a paddle-board tour of Southern Thailand or an afternoon hanging out with orphaned elephants.
It’s been a year since I packed up my life and took off into the world, and if you judged by the items checked off my ‘to-do bucket list’ I haven’t really done a whole lot. The most profound experiences in my journey this far have all been rather unplanned & unexpected, and I don’t think I would have it any other way.
I still haven’t been skydiving, dolphin swimming or eaten pizza in Italy. But I have experienced so much joy, excitement & exhilaration from the unexpected. I have arrived at a festival and camped in a field for two weeks with 24 hours noticed and observed in awe as 400 strangers morphed into beloved friends, I have taken impromptu belly-dancing classes, I’ve fallen in love with so many people, played ukulele on stage for a cabaret, I’ve experienced openness and generosity in the most unexpected places, I’ve stayed up all night drinking beer and singing along with random people met at the side of the road in small town Thailand, I’ve lived in a buddhist sanctuary on the edge of Malaysian jungle, I’ve arrived at an Osho community house for a one week visit and stayed on for two months in the UK (a country I never even intended to visit), I’ve meditated, yoga’d, danced, sang, cried, shouted and really lived my life to all its edges. None of these things were on my ‘list’.
When people make these bucket lists they often think to all the lovely bits. Sunsets, snorkelling, things from postcards. I don’t think your average bucket-list-writer considers all the incredible beauty and power that can come from the darkness, the shadows and undesirable bits.
My bucket list sure as hell didn’t involve cathartic release, shouting, fear, loneliness or isolation – does yours?
But some of the most memorable, empowering and life changing moments of my life have grown from these exact things. Those dark, scary and challenging places are where some of the most incredible and beautiful experiences of my life have come from. I could certainly live my life without ever swimming with dolphins, but I don’t want to think about spending the next 50, 60 or 70 years of my life not understanding my fears or feeling my passions.
So you know what.. fuck the bucket list. It’s time to scribble it out, to re-think, to let go of the plan. Embrace the unexpected, the change, the unknown and just let it happen.