Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Overrated Bucket List

Many times I am tempted to make a "Bucket List." Though I liked the movie, I've never been a fan of the idea. When I sort other's "list," I feel sorry for letting themselves be trapped into a whirlwind of expectations that in one way or another pressure them to be someone they want to be in the most ideal way possible.

When you look at reality, there is always a great favor on the ideal type. Whether that's about intellect, size, passion, career, there always seems to be a "right" and "best" way to view this and that. That cannot be blamed on the individual though, as evolution tells us there is always a preference for the most ideal trait suited for the seasons and the right reasons.

But the thing is, we modern humans have ceased widening our perceptions. We have failed to realize that the ideal type is cultural evolution in the making. What is ideal here is not ideal there; nor is the ideal for me the ideal one for you. The ideal is always relative; but cultural perceptions tell us otherwise.

If I tell you living in an Amazonian forest for a year would be on my list, would that be "ideal" and "okay"? If I put on gorging on whole cakes for the rest of my life, would that be eligible to be on the list? But if I decide to go for donating to charity, or completing a marathon, I'm sure, no doubt, no thinking twice, those are legitimate Bucket List entries.

The thing with Bucket Lists is that it narrows down your options. Maybe today you are this young, adventurous, idealistic individual; but tomorrow, when you get married and have a family of your own, your opinion and priorities will change, no matter how hard you resist it. And so you are inevitably caught in this list that you get frustrated in the end if you miss doing this and that, knowing that it would be a dishonor to remove something from the list "just because" you have ceased to realize the importance of it.

I've tried countless times to do a Bucket List; but after two days, I give up. It seems the fun, excitement and utmost curiosity that comes with the idea all drowns as soon as the ink gives way to my ideal expectation. I get frustrated in the end that I end up finishing nothing.

Maybe Bucket Lists work for others; but never, in my years of curiosity with these infamous lists, have I encountered people ticking off even a quarter of the list. The ideas are so overwhelming that for a human being who has an average of 65 years to live, the thought of doing bungee jumping, touring the world, writing a book, getting on a TV show, finishing a full Ironman, biking in the seven continents, producing a song, learning all martial arts, volunteering for a year, getting into Harvard, learning how to quilt, learning how to speak all European languages, learning how to write all Asian languages, climbing all seven highest peaks, and the list goes on and on and on, seem to be, in reality, but echoes of an impossible dream.

I am not discouraging anyone to do a Bucket List; all I'm saying is, why narrow down your options? Why give yourself the beauty of enjoying everything out of nothing? If I come out of the house today and I meet a sick old man needing help, the fulfillment of extending assistance would go far beyond exhausting all my efforts on doing a list I am fooling myself to tick off in my lifetime.

The modern world has made everything so convenient that practicality and convenience have even extended even in the deepest throngs of human beings, their souls. Advocacy may be as easy as paying the registration fee for a fun run, wearing these national pride gears, and making tarpaulins to show your support and concern. Don't get me wrong, these are legitimate avenues for self-expression; but to get out of the house to fight for your advocacy, that's a totally different story. Much the same way as eating is easier than cooking; writing a list is so much easier than getting it all done.

A Bucket List is but a reflection of this generation's reliance on practicality and convenience, on self-assurance, assertiveness, and self-confidence-- thus, the "Me" Generation. No doubt, these cultural traits have not only gone through an external revolution; more so, an internal one has been in the making for years, molding us and directing us as on how, why, and what we should think and act today. It's all a product of evolution, but it's good to know that we are not in an iron cage, unable to get out of the rungs of the world. We are human beings, borne out of mind and spirit; we can choose which way to go.

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