An old 80s or 90s rock song—by Bad English, I think—includes a line that says something like, “…will it always be that the dream gets changed as it gets close to reality?” It is inevitable that our dreams, and with them our bucket lists, are changed as time passes. Some things we accomplish, some things we put on the back burner, and some things we decide are no longer important to us.
When I was a child, I thought if I could just own my own horse and get my pilot’s license, my life would be complete. I did eventually own a dark bay half-quarter horse filly for a few years, during which I realized I really like to look at horses. Ride them—not so much.
When I graduated from high school, I thought my life would be complete if I could get a college education, marry my high school sweetheart, get my pilot’s license, and make a living writing. I did all those things except get my pilot’s license, but not in the order I expected and not exactly in the way I expected. I did them—well, kind of inside out. And in the process, I learned to love photography. Hadn’t even been in my sights.
When I finally graduated from college, I already had a husband and family, and I thought my life would be complete if I could get a job I enjoyed that would allow me to contribute to the family income and work on that novel that was beginning to percolate in the back of my head. I got a job I enjoyed that included writing and editing and paid enough I could support myself, and I eventually completed that novel—plus a novelette that started percolating somewhere in the middle of the novel. I also did a lot of other things I never dreamed I would, but somehow I don’t think learning to weld or standing on the hood of the largest truck in the world the first time its engine was started or planning a party for 10,000 people would ever have been in my bucket list anyway. And somewhere along the way, getting a pilot’s license fell out.
When I retired, I thought my life would be complete if I could learn to water color, finish visiting all the national parks of the US, go to Scotland, and get my first book published. I’ve visited Yellowstone and Scotland, and I’ve found a publisher for my first book. I took watercolor lessons and realized maybe I should stick to photography.
So you’d think I’d be about finished with my bucket list, right? Um…remember what I said about adding things? Now I want to go to Scotland again, because the sequel to the first book is set there. Then come the two other sequels and the two sequels to the first novelette, and the stand-alone novel. I also want to go to Wales.
And that’s how I like it. I should always have another book to write, another trip to take, something new to learn. Because if your bucket list contains all the things you want to do before you die, and you complete it, you’ve symbolically completed your life, right? I hope the day I die, I’ve just thought of something else to add to my bucket list.