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Bucket Lists Are A Sop to Self Indulgence

“It seems impossible, but we are already two months into 2016. Life is passing by at warp speeds. In order to get the most out of life, I try to stop, reflect, and analyze periodically. With all the craziness in the world, I am fully aware that I could die tomorrow. With this mindset, it directs me to live a life of intention. I’m not going to let life just happen to me. I’m going to take control of it and make it what I want. As I take a time out this morning, I reflect on the following:

If I were to die tomorrow, have I….”

What has happened to English?  Journalists, who should set a good example, make this grammatical error every day.  “If I were to die” is rubbish.  No such verb form exists in English.  “If I died tomorrow” or “If I should die” or “If I die tomorrow” are alternatives.  Never follow any form of the copula verb ‘to be’ with an infinitive.  Just don’t do it.

Having pointed this out, let’s turn to Erin Smith’s argument.  “I am not going to let life just happen to me. I am going to take control of it and make it what I want.”  This thinking is a sop to self-indulgence.

Life is the stuff that happens to you, whether or not you may imagine that you have control over it.  That ‘lack of control’ makes life exciting, unpredictable and fascinating.  Just when you think your life is tidy, something happens to unsettle your comfort.  

That, in fact, is life.  Your ability to ‘control’ it is an illusion, a sop to vanity.  Smith’s bucket list comprises thirteen things you should do before time runs out.  All are sentimental babble.  

The first in the list is just silly.  Your parents already know that you love them.  Say it as often as you like, certainly but, if you pass away before the words cross your lips for one last time, relax. They know how you feel anyway.

Don’t bother your ‘best friends’ with words of affection; they know already.  It’s the other ‘friends’ you have been ignoring that need reassurance, the acquaintances who rate so little thought and admiration that you can’t remember their names or see their faces.

Don’t visit all the people who matter to you.  That causes a lot of unnecessary house cleaning ahead of your numerous arrivals.

Your kids already know that, in this life, winning and losing matter.  

I don’t have daughters, just two sons.  They know that, in this age of desperate hiring and firing, looking good matters. Nothing I might say about ‘goodness’ inside will register with them until their inside beauty is all they have left, when they are 65 too.

Sure, no one should stop dreaming but that happens as one learns to accept one’s limitations.

Smith says  that “she has always been a spontaneous person [who] firmly believes that life begins at the end of my comfort zone.”  Few people are genuinely spontaneous without irritating those closest individuals who are forced ‘to keep up.’

She asks “have I done enough for the world?”  Nobody has done enough, so cut yourself some slack here.  

She asks “have I gotten enough sleep at the end of my life?”  That is the silliest question of all.  

Smith needs a fresh ‘bucket list.’   One presumes that she has acted on her list already as a logical consequence of making it.  That second list is the one I’d like to see.

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Professional. Retired. Canadian.

3 replies

  1. Hi Geof,

    What has happened to the press you ask?

    I think the problem is a virulent case of self-indulgence. It is all about “me”. I have to get up from watching a documentary and walk away when the camera is focused constantly on the reporter. Watch me walk, watch me look into the distance, watch me sit on the beach, and don’t forget to watch me watch my own documentary in the making! I am wonderful aren’t I? The actual documentary is simply a ruse for attention for the starving narcissist. Jancis Robinson was a model for this behaviour on her wine tours and she used to drive me wild with her self-absorption.

    Enough of those people…they are soul suckers and sharing their head space in any way shape or form can’t help but leave one in negative territory. I choose not to be scooped up in their wake.

    That is my theory and I am sticking to it!

    Hugs, Dawn:)



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