A few years back I made a bucket list. Making this list was long overdue since I had already lived thirty years on this planet without any real plans for adventure or goals beyond what was right in front of me with career, family and friends.
Yet as I sat down to make this list, I then began to realize that there is so much I want to do and experience in the remaining life I have left live. Experiences yet undiscovered.
Sometimes it can be a scary thought when faced with ones own mortality, but in my case, I created my list as a means to motivate me to fulfill all my desires. However I am not a selfish person and I also want to be charitable and give back as much as I can, when I can.
Upon the completion of my list, I took a long walk and began to think of the good fortunes that I have already had a chance to experience that many have not or possible will never get to do. Just the same, I thought of certain experiences I may never get to accomplish or experience because of the paths that are currently in front of me. When looking down every available path before me, some earthly desires seemed out of reach.
Yet I choose not to focus on my limitations, instead I choose to focus on obtainable desires and acts or charity that can actually make a difference; not just a donation to a cause I believe in, but actual action for the cause.
Surprisingly, my list was relatively not too long (just short of one full page.) I felt this to be a good sign as upon reflection, I feel I have experienced a great deal of special and memorable moments. However my soul still yearns to experience much more.
One item on my list are to take a cross country road trip and visit as much of the country as possible.
Growing up in a military family, it was not uncommon that we traveled back and forth from the east coast to the west coast. My parents drove my brothers and I across country and they did make occasional strategic stops at famous landmarks. While I did get to see many famous landmarks, I was too young to fully appreciate them. I would like to retrace those routes, perhaps add a few extra stops and drive coast to coast again, this time as an adult. I also missed out on a number of landmarks that I would love to see. The Grand Canyon is but one example.
Another item on my list is to travel to and visit every continent (I could live without visiting Antarctica, so six out of seven would do.)
This may prove difficult to do for various reasons. Timing, planning with my wife, children if we have a family at that time, the potential long travel time, choosing specific locations, money and safety are all issues I would have to factor in to reach this goal. Is it obtainable? Certainly. Is it something I could potentially pull off in the next twelve months? Probably not.
Those are just a few examples of items on my bucket list. I have many trivial items listed that I could potentially knock out on any given day depending on timing, location and a bit of luck, and I even have a few that many who know me might consider “pipe dreams.” Yet those I keep on the list because if I am fortunate enough to experience them and cross them off, then it would fill a partial void within me and also make me very happy.
Since I made the list about two years ago, I have crossed off a number of items/experiences. Most came natural and without much planning. A few of them I had to pull a few strings to experience and cross of my list. Now as I stand and look at what remains, I feel it is a modest, yet challenging list.
My philosophy has changed in such regards of completing my list. Instead of relentless pursuit, I am just going to let go.
I am going to let go and see where the world takes me. I will fulfill my responsibilities to my work and home life, but I will no longer put unnecessary pressure upon myself to obtain and experience everything my heart desires. I will enjoy the ups and downs of the riding roller coaster as it takes me through the highs and lows of life. If I am able to complete my list, then it will be a complete victory, yet if I fall short of a few listed items, I will be happy that I tried my best to live life to its fullest and enjoy each moment as it presented itself.
I believe this is where many people lose their way or come up short on their experience. All the planning and the pressure creates this vision of perfection in our minds that we are rarely ever able to duplicate once in action. Upon reflection of the experiences that I so desperately wanted to do, the ones that just happened sort of spur of the moment, with little planning were the most rewarding, fun, memorable and the most fulfilling.
Fulfilling our desires to experience life’s pleasures is much like falling in love. It can rarely be forced and the more natural the occurrence, the more enjoyable the outcome and memories become.
There is so much to do in this world. The world truly is one big canvass of colors. Which ever colors we choose to use, those are the colors we should pursue for those are the ones that will bring us the greatest joy.
Having a list is a great start and having a plan is always a good idea, but let us never forget that some of the greatest things in life that happen to us catch us off guard and happen in the moment.
Some of the greatest things that will ever happen to us are the things we will never expect or see coming. Keep an open mind while attempting to reach for the stars and follow all of our dreams. Our list should be a guideline, not an instruction manual. So sit back and enjoy the ride! Take your hands off the wheel every now and then and see where it takes you! Many times it will lead to new paths and new options.
Many great things will happen with or without the elaborate planning. Live in the moment and respect each life experience as it happens in real time. Sometimes we get so wrapped up looking for what is beyond that moment or the meaning of that moment that we regret later on that we didn’t enjoy that moment when we had it. With an open mind and an open heart, much of we seek will come to us instead of us having to chase down our dreams.
Embrace the ride; the twists and turns, the ups and the downs of life’s roller coaster, as it is when we are at the lowest point we can truly appreciate the gravity and the heights to which we have soared.
Author: Adam Wilkinson
About Adam Wilkinson: Adam Wilkinson is a high school Social Studies teacher and football coach. He is a firm believer in karma and that everything happens for a reason. He believes the universe has a way of correcting itself or intervening to put us on the correct path. As a very spiritual person, he feeds off the energy of the sun and salt water, believing it heals all wounds—physical and/or emotional. He’s always open to new experiences and re-experiencing the old as there are new lessons to learn everywhere. His mission is to learn or experience one new thing a day, and two new things on the weekends. An introvert at heart, but he is constantly on the move and loves to connect with people. An alumni of elephant journal’s apprenticeship program which inspired him to co-found Unchainedvoice.com. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Instagram and twitter. Find him somewhere and he will happily talk relationships, tattoos, the sun, the moon and the stars and everything in-between with you as he has done with many people already!