Like most of us, passionate and travellers, we live life to the fullest and to make sure we do so, we have created a list of goals we want to accomplish before we expire. Whether it is a meli-melo of ideas trotting in your head, or on a sheet hanging around the house, or written on your bathroom mirror, the Bucket List is there and waiting to be crossed off.
Most people tell me, “Why are you such in a hurry of doing it all? You have all your life!” But what if I don’t? Life is unpredictable, plus I enjoy setting myself challenging goals. As I believe we only live once, I want to take advantage of my human life. And while I agree with most part of buddhism, I am not entirely convinced with reincarnation. I hold no memory of my previous life, although if I was a bird that would’ve explained all those aerial dreams. And what if I turn out to be reborn as an amphibian, or a reptile or worse, a parasite? I want to make sure that my human life is fully completed with the goals I set myself. Some people will strive for professional career success, or to realize an Olympian dream, or to become a great entrepreneur. But me, I just want to complete my Bucket List, or I was…
Recently I came across one of the toughest decisions. I was working so hard on accomplishing my #1: 30 countries before 30, and started stressing out by a lack of time and finances. At the edge of the 30’s, I had 8 countries left to visit and 4 months left to do so. My plan was to volunteer in Morocco then travel the African continent overland with a budget camping safari company. It seemed like the perfect plan. But came reality and my dream collapsed. After volunteering costs, surf camp and safari fees, visas, vaccines, air tickets, travelling equipment and optional activities, I was left with just a few coins. I would’ve found myself restrained from checking other items off the list. Plus, when I travel abroad, I like to be generous and give to the local economies, hence buying souvenirs, booking activities from local companies, buying lunch and presents to my guide, driver, host. There was no way I could do it all without coming back home in the biggest financial hole. Life would’ve been hard and miserable for a while. I had to choose. So I took a walk in the woods and sat by a waterfall. I looked as the water streamed through the rocks.
The fear of growing up, the anxiety of settling down, the pressure of starting a family. Overall, it is the fear of stepping into this milestone of life. Growing up. Aging. Life moving too fast. Middle-life crisis. And a Bucket List screaming to be crossed off.
I came to my senses and realized that I was putting too much stress into following this list. I started to search the Internet, trying to understand this meaning and purpose of this famous list. Then I came across Joey Runyon’s article on the Impossible List:
“The impossible list is a journey (…) a series of events, each building on each other in order to create a great story. Each list has a meaning and a purpose and the list expands and changes in order to tell a story of how you’ve grown, what you’ve overcome and how you’ve gotten to where you are from where you’re from. The check marks designate things accomplished, but the purpose is not to simply achieve specific accomplishments but to change in the process that occurs between events.”
This reading has inspired me in changing a few approaches I had on life. I turned my Bucket List into an Impossible List (at least to try it out) and found myself releaved of anxiety and future feelings of failure. I decided to postpone the safari to a later year, without holding grudges, and put emphasis into volunteering. This way I could spend more time offering my help to people in need and I would even have the time to fit a safari with my mother in the Sahara desert and finish with a vacation in the Canary Islands. While focusing on one thing, I would have the financial comfort and appropriate time to profoundly explore an area of the world that I was forever attracted to.
Whether you have a To Do List, a Bucket List or an Impossible List, remember it is not a race, it is a personal evolving challenge with no expiry date. Don’t limit yourself with time, don’t take it as a failure if you can’t cross off some items. Leave room for change, as we constantly mature and evolve. A list should inspire you to do more each day and live life at the fullest. A life of purpose and meaning. Because it’s not to get there, but how you get there. It’s about how you live the journey.
I won’t be able to cross off my #1: 30 before 30, but at least I got an inspiring lesson from it. And I feel great about it 🙂