The bucket list

(First of a series)

“What goes on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoonand three in the evening?” asked the Sphinx. 

“Man” Oedipus answered after some thought.  –Riddle of the Sphinx

SO here you are in the late afternoon of your life. Sundown is on the horizon. The end game is in sight. You know it isn’t a matter of if but when.

You’re still upright on two legs, although your knees are starting to buckle. You aren’t looking forward to walking on 3 legs with the help of a cane or a walker. At least, not just yet ……

In the quiet of the early morning hours of days before the coming winter season of your life, you wonder if there is yet one glorious summer time, a glimmer of hope in reprising one’s life unencumbered by the structures and strictures of past choices, right or wrong.

There is a part of you that longs for some kind of reprieve to break away and create a life that fills your soul with gladness, so light, so ethereal as the flutter of butterfly wings — that all the hurts, pains, heartaches, and sense of brokenness that have weighed you down and held you hostage for so long a time suddenly went up in smoke, went pouf and VOILA, disappear as though by magic.

A few of your contemporaries have passed and you wonder if you still have what it takes to stay the course you have chosen until the end game. You question if there is time enough to do all those things you wish you did when you could. There’s that long bucket list burning a hole in your back pocket.

Why call it a bucket list? Kicking the bucket means “to die” from where the phrase  “bucket list” comes from. There are many explanations but the one that seems to make sense is that of a method of dying, either by execution or by suicide. A person stands on a bucket, with a noose around his neck to cause death by hanging from a beam by the final act of an executioner kicking the bucket or by kicking it himself. I am pretty sure that is NOT a scenario most people would choose. But we now refer to the bucket list as your TO DO LIST before the end.

You groan, perhaps not because of the thought of dying itself, but because there is just too many in your bucket list, so little time, low levels of personal energy and scant resources. SIGH…

There’s also this thing called Legacy – a big word but it only means ‘What do you leave behind?’ Those anointed by grace to live large will have streets and schools named after them, marble statues on a town square or etched on the side of a mountain like Mount Rushmore. But for ordinary people, great memories frozen in still photos and videos and some intangible influence beyond death would be enough.

Perhaps a few tears will be shed. There will be sadness for some time. There will be cloudy days as though nature feels the pain of separation, yours and theirs. You pray those you left behind can move on and live purposeful lives pleasing to God. Life goes on.

Most women can be calm, cool and collected accepting the notion of goodbyes more readily than men. It seems nature has blessed women with the internal fortitude and strength to be able to plan for the final event with remarkable equanimity.

As for men, well, not so much…… The idea of mortality is not something that most men are comfortable with.  Don’t fret. It is in their DNA. There are exceptions of course. Men’s strength is expressed in other ways no less than women, like nature intended it.

The solution is always the same when one is overwhelmed and paralyzed. With too many items in one’s bucket list, pare it down to bite sizes. Make a molehill out of a mountain.

Size it down as David did when he slew Goliath. Cull out non-essentials ruthlessly, the fluff as we call them, and PRIORITIZE. Since life itself holds no guarantees on how long we are to live, SIMPLIFY and do a triage of sorts.

Do the most important things first, the one that is near and dear to your heart.  Then when there is time left over, you can still choose to do the trivial stuff on your bucket list just for the heck of it. OR simply delete the rest of the list. With still a smidgen of time left, sit back and savor doing nothing. You’ve earned the right to this bit of luxury.

For now, select a handful of those things in your bucket list that have the highest chance of coming to fruition given your time frame. In tech speak, this means before your life’s energy goes into ‘low batt mode’ and  life has run out of sockets to plug into.

Next week:  An idea for The Bucket List …

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Nota Bene: Monette Adeva Maglaya is SVP of Asian Journal Publications, Inc. To send comments, e-mail monette.maglaya@asianjournalinc.com

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