Bucket List: (n) – A number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.
I love lists. They can be found anywhere (my car, the kitchen counter, the pool bag) and written on anything (a Post-it, a WaWa receipt, my hand). I also love goals: Run a half-marathon, submit an essay for publication, do the Facebook 30 Day Ab Challenge.
So, when I started a Summer Bucket List a few weeks ago, I went after it like a true pathological goal-setting list-maker. The longer I spent writing it, the more charged up I became. Each “task” added to the list was bigger and loftier than the last. Essentially what I ended up with was a list of goals.
Lofty goals = Heavy Bucket.
Reading the list made me feel tired. And I hadn’t even done anything yet. Which of course made me feel like a loser. Maybe I just needed to buckle down and get this shit done.
Then I had an a-ha moment.
Phil and I joined a pool this summer, and headed over there one late afternoon with the kids. It’s a nice pool, nothing fancy – which is a good thing because we are also not fancy. Especially Phil, who believes “shorts” is synonymous with “bathing suit,” and needs to be reminded that in fact they are two separate clothing items made of different material.
But I digress.
So we are sitting by the semi-deserted pool, drinking wine on ice out of plastic solo cups, watching Emma go off the diving board while Phoebe back-floats like an old man in pink water wings. A random guy with a guitar set up a little stage at the corner of the pool, singing the great hits of the 70’s.
And then, with Styx playing in the background, there was this moment that felt suspended in time. Phil felt it too. We looked at each other with tears in our eyes, and I said: “This is so…”
“….easy.” he finished.
Moving three times in 18 months with two kids under the age of eight requires a tremendous amount of frenetic energy. You are constantly focused on where you are going or where you have been or where you might end up, rather than where you actually are. It’s hard. But without even noticing, you get kind of addicted to the hard. You expect everything to be hard. If you are not working hard, it means you are not doing it right, or not doing the right thing.
The summer is not the time for hard. This realization has been hitting me slowly over the past few weeks – that I create difficulty where there isn’t any, because “hard” has become my weird, masochistic comfort zone. I am programmed to rush: rush to make dinner, rush to wash the sheets, rush to give the girls showers. When really….what’s the rush? It’s not like the dirty sheets are going to run away.
Since that evening at the pool, I have started to notice how much I potentially miss by always having an agenda – by feeling the need to accomplish or achieve or be productive. I have tried to slow down and notice little things, like the woodpecker outside my window every morning as I drink coffee, or the ladybug trying to find her way out of the bathtub. Instead of rushing, I try to do more watching. And man, there is some great stuff to watch:
I went back to the Bucket List and started over, renaming it “Empty Your Bucket.” Instead of “what do I want to achieve or accomplish,” I asked, “What will make me feel more alive, more relaxed, more joyful?”
So for the rest of the summer, I will be
working on “experiencing” my list. Maybe I will blog about it, maybe I won’t. Maybe I will post next week, maybe I won’t post until August. It feels weird to be so noncommittal. But in the spirit of Emptying My Bucket, I am just going to let things be…light.
The intention of the new list is to feel more like this:
This is my favorite photo of me. I look so free, so unencumbered. So alive. I know that little girl is still in there.
Maybe this list will help me find her again.
Jessie’s Empty Your Bucket List
- Buy basil plant + tomato plant = Make Sauce
- Go Paddleboarding
- Read a book in a hammock
- See a movie under the stars
- Dive off a diving board
- Tie Dye Party
- Swim in a waterfall
- Outdoor music
- Get muddy
- Collect something
- Watch the clouds
- Screen-less Sunday(s)
- Play tennis
- Learn the Running Man (and get it on video)
What’s on your Empty Your Bucket List?