How would you define the term "bucket list?" What is on yours?
Think on it for a minute - where are the places you want to travel to? Swimming around tropical villas in the Maldives. Taking a selfie on a tower in mist-shrouded remotest China with the Great Wall trailing into the fog.
Maybe you've thought how nice it would be to take a class in something - watercolour, perhaps. Maybe go scuba diving. I'm sure there are exotic foods you want to try, maybe picking a fresh mango off a tree.
I rarely think about my bucket list. I don't need to because mine, rather unusually, is complete. It runs as follows:
Glenn's Bucket List
Item 1: Run barefoot on the African savannah ✓
As a runner, I was of course curious what our earliest ancestors must have experienced as they ran in our last common landscape (answer: it's f---ing scary! You're alone and barefoot and there could be lions out there! Now get back to your freakin' camp, you lunatic!)
A few months ago I asked myself what I would put on my list nowadays, and surprised myself with the answer. There are no singular experiences I would consider "bucket list" items. There aren't even any significant accomplishments. Instead, it is filled with activities, and practices, and meaningful pursuits. Essentially, they are things which have to do with a change of self; these are the things which I long to do because they become a feature of who I am, and how I define myself.
I'll give one example that is fairly representative.
One of the most beautiful objects I have ever seen was a 16th century katana at a museum in New Zealand (naturally that is where you find such things). It didn't even have a handle, just a raw blade on a stand in a glass case. I love the history behind these objects; the care and devotion of a true craftsperson to create something of both aesthetic and objective value. I love the nuance and subtlety of the design; how something so simple can possess such beautiful traits and achieve physical properties that a katana-shaped lump of normal steel could never dream of. I love the process behind the creation of the object; the way that the iron is folded with charcoal over and over and over again and again and again to get the perfect mixture of carbon in just the right place, and how the blade is actually straight when forged, and only acquires the familiar curve in the final processes of tempering, as the blade cools at an uneven rate and curves itself in a natural, organic process.
There's absolutely no practical function for swords in the modern world (thank god; that's not a period of history we want to revisit), and yet this history remains. This is a bucket list item for me - to gain an appreciation for the craft and subtlety of forging and tempering metal. It's not an easy subject, and I wouldn't want to take a class on it. No, I would approach it with a stack of books, perhaps a mentor, and spend some of my free time over the course of years trying to approximate a level of expertise.
There's nothing really wrong with normal bucket list items; not everything in life has to be an all-consuming interest. But individual experiences to be checked off a list probably shouldn't be the only things we dream of doing. The things I aspire to now; the things I hope to achieve in my lifetime all have to do with adding qualities to myself as a person.
What do you want to be in your life? That's really what BucketList2.0 is asking. Forget about what you want to do - what do you want to be capable of?
Writing words here and there on adventures running out in the forests and mountains