2013-07-02

Kick the Bucket List

The sweetness of this moment and also its sorrow is the love we make of fleeting lives. Right where we are.

The 2007 film, “The Bucket List” starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman further popularized the idea of having a list of things to do or places to go before dying – before "kicking the bucket."

Dear friends, this is a bad idea. Don’t do it. Don’t make that list, and if you have one, throw it away. The measure of a life is not the length of the list of things done once, but the integrity of things done over and over, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, until they radiate with beauty and grow fresher with each repetition.

Too often have I said, and heard, “been there, done that” – as if everything in the whole possible conceivable world was worth paying attention to once, at most, and never again. Go back to that place you have been and that thing you have done because last time you were there you didn’t stay. Go back to what you do know, but live as if you’ve forgotten. Touch that familiar cloth, and the electric jolt of mad implication:

This is it. All of it. All of it right here. There is nowhere to go except here.

When Ecclesiastes said there is no new thing under the sun, it meant that that's because all things are always new beneath this sun. So hanker not for the fresh and new but open your eyes to the wonder that is always before you.

Let us be a countercultural people, standing counter to the consumer culture exerting all its might to entice us to buy new experiences, a consumer culture that would sell water to a fish if it could, for we are as immersed in constantly shifting new experience as a fish in the ocean.

Do you want to change the world? Congratulations, you have. Each of us changes the world every day, and is changed by it.

Nothing could be more abundant than brand-new, fresh, never-before experience. Forget about making a list of the ones you want, and notice the amazing ones you have.

If religion is a way of living, an approach to life, the film “The Bucket List” is bad religion. For good religion in film, I would mention “Ground Hog Day.” Presented with the exact same circumstances every morning, Bill Murray makes each day different by how he responds to it. He learns at last to live in the moment and finds that when he does, his life becomes one of compassion and joy – right there in the same old small town, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

The sweetness of this moment and also its sorrow is the love we make of fleeting lives. Right where we are.