The Value of Bucket Lists
Once upon a time they were simply goals. Then the popular media got a hold of them and they became “books to read before you die.” And Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson dropped them into a “bucket list” of things to experience before they shuffled off this rocky planet.
Bucket lists filled with goals and aspirations are invaluable to our psyches. They allow us to rise above the mundane details of day to day living by providing us something to strive for and provide justification for hours toiled at work. The anticipation of checking off items from our bucket lists buoys our spirits and, once achieved, and fills us with sustaining memories of accomplishment.
The natural wonders of America have inspired bucket lists since the beginning of the nation. Upon reaching the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers at Harpers Ferry in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson was moved to write, “This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” A century later when Theodore Roosevelt was guided to the Grand Canyon he could say little more than, “this is the one great sight which every American should see.” It was another century later that book publishers morbidly inserted the time imperative into Roosevelt’s sentiment.
The best bucket lists are those that invite us to step outside our comfort zone, to challenge us to find our best selves. The challenges can be physical, mental or spiritual. Putting the challenges on paper and into “a bucket” makes them real and provides focus. It also fosters the commitment of a contract with yourself.
Here in the Southwest we are fortunate to be able to provide the checkmarks to many of life’s bucket lists. Hiking rim to rim on the Grand Canyon. Backpacking through Yosemite. Conquering Angel’s Landing in Zion. Kayaking to a secluded swimming hole under a canyon waterfall. New adventures – and dreaming of them – are what sustain us. And here in the Southwest the experience bucket is never empty.