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  • Writer's pictureCarrumba

Coffee Shop Sermon (Bucket List Pondering)

Updated: Aug 3

Do you have a 'bucket list' and just when and why did it become a thing? Is it healthy concept and what is on yours? Let's have an unreasonable and ridiculous discussion...

Yesterday, I declared I had crossed something off my 'bucket-list' when we were finally 'that car' that drove through part of a safari park with a monkey on the roof - I even put out a typo riddled thread about it. I don't actually have a formal bucket list, but this 'achievement' made me wonder if I should. The term 'bucket list' came into existence in the 1990s and cemented itself in our consciousness in 2007 with the film 'Bucket List' - it's an updated and funkier term for wish-list, replacing fairies and ethereal magical beings with the 'fuck I'm going to die' fever dreams of a computer programmer facing their doom vibe. In programming parlance, a 'bucket' is where things are grouped together, and some nerd got it into the wider consciousness to oust wish-list. Would be ironic if that wasn't on their bucket list...

Where wish-lists are from a bygone era perhaps based on adventures your mad Uncle Phil would bang on about at Christmas after a few too many sherries, or those misty-eyed tales Jessica would recite down the pub as they stared, wobbly trance-like, into the middle distance, brushing away a tear with a hand covered in stretched and faded henna tattoos - the 'bucket list' is an internet fuelled, supercharged, crazy-assed excuse to try and make anything possible. If you can find it on the internet, it can be on your bucket list. Trek into the Peruvian wilderness to milk rare alpacas, you go! Be helicoptered into the Amazon rainforest (what's left of it) to live for a week with an isolated tribe (whether they like it or not) - don't let the haters stop you! Always wanted to slap an endangered animal - it's your goddam right! LiVe In ThE mOmEnT!! Here, have an eye-roll meme.

Robert Downey Junior mid eye-roll meme
It's what you were thinking of, admit it

None of these are on actual bucket lists that I know of, and I may being dramatic (surely not!? *sarcasm*) But the fact that a search for "weird bucket lists" brings up endless lists of 'crazy things' people want to do goes to show that, unlike wish lists which have been subjugated by Amazon and Wish in search returns, the bucket list phenomena is as much a part of people's lives as trying to avoid taxes or getting stuff for free. A lot of the 'crazy' ideas seem to reveal people's repressed desires around sex, violence or causing chaos (I was particularly baffled by the person who wanted to control a busy street for a day with traffic cones), which brings me back to my original question, are bucket lists healthy?

An aspect of bucket-lists we haven't mentioned is that, like the 2007 film of the same name, they tend to pop into someone's life when faced with their own mortality on the diagnosis of a terminal illness. It's essentially a list of things you want to do before you die, and perhaps symptomatic of a life lead gently fuming at 'working for the man', plodding from 9-5. Or the realisation that life really is finite and, fuck it, better to spend what time you have left before becoming really ill doing stuff that makes you intensely happy. Short, ultra-concentrated bursts of joy. It's when the buck-list way of living appears in the perfectly healthy with the 'live-in-the-moment' brigade it can get interesting.

"Living in the present moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift." - Oprah Winfrey

I am naturally a bit cynical of the 'live-in-the-moment' crew, who are usually wealthy enough to be able to sit in quiet contemplation of their navels all day, safe in the knowledge that they are earning enough interest in their bank accounts with each breath they take. The staff will be paid, and they will never have to worry about where their next meal is coming from - live in the moment! Or are atop the pyramid of some 'movement' with an ample supply of adherents to ensure their life is comfortable enough - live in the moment (after you have recruited enough new members, please)! Another aspect of 'living in the moment' that can be extremely unhealthy is when it becomes shorthand for throwing your hands in the air and running away from whatever in life is too difficult to deal with. "I'm going to live in the moment and become a full time content creator - I have so much creativity to give! Check my insta and business email - follow me on Twitch. Like and subscribe.... like and subscribe... what do you mean you are going to evict me? What aren't I raking it in? LiVe In ThE MoMeNt! Bezos save me!!!" As a wizened, old twitch streamer, it's a journey I have seen repeated many, many times.

I've witnessed it in the more traditional work places, as people leave for more 'worthy' jobs and then boomerang back when they can't sustain their previously comfortable lifestyle. Some of that may be because of the stressful times most of us are living in, and it's interesting to see more careful examination of universal income to ensure everyone has a base-level of existence and greater freedom to choose how and when to work. Movements like that will become increasingly urgent with the arrival of AI which isn't going to create any meaningful (or even frivolous) jobs to replace the tasks it takes over. The arrival of the motor car might have eventually killed off the coach builder and wheel-rights as professions, but it replaced it created mechanics CAD designers. AI won't do that, and the basic assumptions on which capitalism is built look to be on the shakiest ground since the inception of the industrial revolution. But that's another blog altogether!

Two white Alpacas staring at eh camera with woods in the distant background

In defence of bucket-lists, I do think they have a place in our lives but as with anything, their true usefulness lies somewhere in between the two extremes I have highlighted so far. Our information age loves to highlight the extreme successes and failures associated with living in the moment, but if you employ it in a realistic manner, the approach really can be helpful. Having things targeted that you want to achieve in a week, month or year can help get over that inertia and force you to take steps along the path to whatever your goal is. If those steps show it's not possible how you imagined it, be willing to adjust your goal and not see that as a failure. If you combine this with a general life approach of not being a dick and doing no harm, it's going to have a positive impact on you and the world you live in. That might sound astoundingly obvious to you, dear reader, but one glance at the news or a quick scan of social media will show you screeds of articles and posts that point to the number of people who seem to miss this point. Unless being a vacuous, narcissistic wrecking ball is on their bucket-list, of course.

Anyway, i'm off to research my groundbreaking Scottish Alpaca milk cheese business. Like and subscribe!

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