Friday, 10 June 2016

To Bucket List or not to Bucket List

bucket list
noun: bucket list; plural noun: bucket lists
a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

Do a search on the interwebs for 'bucket list' and you get a lot of responses. Articles like ‘100+ creative bucket list ideas you should add yo your list’; ‘Bucket list – 10,000 things to do before you die!’ – and so on and so forth. There are sites where you can sign up, create your list and track your progress.

After I was diagnosed with the faulty BRCA1 gene, it felt like a very large finger had reached down from the heavens and said ‘it’s you’, like in the old Lottery adverts. Except in my case the finger wasn’t denoting a large financial sum but the fact I was almost certainly going to get cancer, and a test had pinpointed the likeliest areas of my body where it was going to crop up.

The Finger. Of destiny.

I found myself thinking about putting together a bucket list. Was it something I needed? Were there things I wanted to do? The genetics team from Addenbrookes were calm and supportive and stressed no immediate decisions on surgery were required but my breast consultant told me I was stupid for not having surgery RIGHT NOW as I could develop breast cancer at any time and once it was in my system that was it and even if it was successfully treated my life would then be about ticking down time until secondaries appeared and put the lid on things for good. Originally, as I assimilated the BRCA1 diagnosis, I didn't think I would have any surgery, and as such I began to think that if that decision meant I could be dead by 50 what did I want to do with my remaining decade and a half?

To start with, I was put off by all those websites that used the word 'should'. Should is a word I view with extreme distrust. It isn't a fun word. It's a duty word. The very fact that so many essays and lists have that word in there somewhere made me think that a Bucket List has become something trendy and required without necessarily having much in the way of actual meaning to the individual. For example, you find an article that lists 25 locations to visit before you die. This makes the assumption that everyone would benefit from these places but what if they are too hot or too cold or too high or too deep for the likes of some? Also many are likely to be out of the price range of a lot of people, adding I suppose to the trendiness.

I've not travelled as widely as some people but I have been out and about and while I have enjoyed travelling it has never 'completed' me - though the hot chocolate I had in Italy that came served in a bowl with a spoon definitely completed something! When I got to thinking about items I could put on my own personal bucket list it was a pretty rag-tag bunch of ideas I ended up with. I wanted to own chickens . . . I wanted to get to spend time with a litter of puppies . . . I wanted to get an underbust corset and see if it was the kind of thing I'd enjoy wearing as part of my standard wardrobe.

I now own three entertaining bantams, and when friends of mine found out their dog had been seduced by the King Charles up the road they offered me an hour in the puppy pen with the results which was AWESOME!!!!! The corset went on Ebay ages ago as it turns out eating is of greater importance to me than making a fashion statement. I'm glad I did all of those things but there were lots of other random items I put on my bucket list that, 6 months down the line, I realised I wasn't really fussed about or actively didn't want anymore.

A bucket list to me holds the potential for regret or frustration - regret if you miss an opportunity to do something, frustration if you have a list of utterly amazing things that you don't have the money/ time/ freedom/ health to do. Depending on your temperament, it could also reduce experiences to a tick box exercise - especially if you have lifted a number of your bucket list goals from lists provided by other people online or from books and magazine articles.

So the end result is that I don't have a bucket list. I have ideas of things I'd like to do but if I were to get knocked down by a bus tomorrow my expiring thought would more likely be about how I wasn't wearing matching underwear rather an experience I'd missed.

Though I feel I must undermine part of the post above by saying that if you have a bucket list on the go yourself, having hot chocolate in Italy really ought to be on it :)

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