Bucket Lists have become very popular in recent years. The idea of compiling a list of things to do or achieve before shuffling off the mortal coil seems rather appealing to a lot of people, and it's understandable. We all want our lives to mean something, and most of us have longed for adventure at one point or another. It's easy to end up 40 or 50years old and realize that time is not an inexhaustible commodity in our lives. Having a list of stuff we want to experience before we die seems like a rational way to plan and make those things come to pass.
But I'm beginning to hate a lot of the common things I see on bucket lists. Not judging people's choices, but if one scours the Internet, there are lots and lots of "Top 10" and "Top 100" bucket lists. Some of these are undoubtedly fantasies that some writer came up with for a website, and others seem to be the most popular answers from surveys, so who knows how many folks really have these things on their personal bucket lists. Still, some of these entries seem pretty badly thought out for one reason or another, and maybe it's time to rethink them before they end up on another list.
5. The I'm a Good Person List Item
I think most people want to be considered kind and compassionate to others. Yes, there are some unrepentantly selfish people that don't seem interested in being nice, but most of us seem to place some importance on that. That's probably why I see quite a few Internet bucket list "best of" articles that include something like, "Perform a kind deed without expecting anything in return."
Yes, we should perform a kind deed without expecting the person benefiting from your kindness to repay it in some way, or without it benefiting us at all.
Shouldn't we do that kind of thing anyway? Why is that a bucket list item? Unless a person is a total rat bastard, shouldn't he or she be treating people kindly and trying to be helpful throughout their lives? If being kind or acting selflessly is such a rarity in a person that they reserve it for a once in a lifetime bucket list activity...wow.
I can see them walking off afterwards saying, "I hope y'all enjoyed that one act of kindness of mine, thanks for helping me scratch something off my bucket list, I'm going back to being an awful person now."
4. The Unrealistic Adventure Then there are the unrealistically adventurous bucket list items, and I see them a lot. Not content to merely travel as a tourist like most people do, these bucket list entries seem to push the boundaries of common sense. Instead of visiting Mount Rainier, or something most people could actually do without too much expense or danger, we get bucket lists that include "Climb Mount Everest." That's a pretty common bucket list goal from what I can tell.
Yes, it makes perfect sense to climb one of the world's most dangerous mountains, something that would challenge even the most experienced climbers and costs at least $50,000 (on the low end) per person in fees, gear, and expenses. Of course, there's also the chance that a person climbing Everest might become a permanent resident of the mountain, joining the more than 200 frozen dead bodies already there, and sitting out as a landmark for other climbers to pass on their way up or down.
Other unrealistic adventure list items would have people hiking through war zones, or in other dangerous environments that the average person couldn't handle. So knock it off. If a person is the type of individual skilled enough to thrive in those sorts of extreme adventure settings, and they have the money to do this stuff, then it's not a bucket list item for them. It's probably already their lifestyle. For the rest of us, we'd probably be better off visiting the Grand Canyon or something. Unless a person really is a bad ass full time adventurer, he or she should probably leave the G.I. Joe action to the experts.
3. Destroying the Places we Love
Machu Picchu, Teotihuacan (the archeological site, not the yummy restaurant), Angkor Wat, Antarctica, Stonehenge, and the Great Barrier Reef. All of those are common bucket list entries for places a person wants to visit before they die. And there are quite a few others that fit this category. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong.
Tourism is slowly, and not so slowly in a few cases, destroying these popular bucket list destinations. Huge numbers of people are trekking to these places, and either disrupting fragile ecosystems, or just grinding them down through wear and tear caused by thousands of people constantly walking around. Yes, most of us would probably love to stand in Stonehenge during a summer solstice or gaze through the clouds in the ruins of Machu Picchu, but we should probably just knock it off for awhile. If these amazing places are to be preserved for future generations, more of us should scratch them off our bucket lists now.
2. The Grueling Physical Conditioning Item Almost every bucket list I've come across has a few entries that seem to be about pushing oneself physically. In a lot of cases, these bucket list items sound like a good thing. Many are along the lines of "Attain my ideal weight", which seems like a realistic goal, with good health benefits.
But there are quite a few that seem to really push the outer limits of physical conditioning - "Run a triathlon", or "Break world record for free diving." That kind of thing.
Getting in good shape is within the realm of possibility for almost anyone that's marginally healthy, and is a great goal to shoot for. But that takes time and commitment, and is a real lifestyle changer, not something one can casually decide to do because they want to scratch it off their bucket list. The higher the fitness goal, the more this becomes evident. A person that wants to break a world record for some form of physical conditioning is probably devoting an enormous amount of effort to that end. For them it's not something to add to a bucket list, it's a total lifestyle. Unless a person has that kind of drive, they should probably set their goals a little more realistically.
1. YOLO List Junk
This is another broad category of bucket wish list activities, and many of them sound like the kind of things only drunk people would think of.
Whether they want to bungee jump off a bridge or run with the bulls in Pamplona, I always wonder why the Hell anyone other than a drunken frat boy would pursue such things. Seeking excitement makes sense to me. Running like a chicken from a bunch of angry bulls through narrow streets while a bunch of similarly minded jack asses run along with you just seems stupid to me.
And there are a lot of those sorts of things littering bucket lists. A person might as well add "Fight a bear" or "Join an orgy" if they're up for such shenanigans. We do only live once. So have some fun, push your limits, see some of the world, be good to other people. We should all experience as much as we can before the lights go out permanently, but when a person starts to make lists that sound less like bucket lists and more like the wish list of a sexually frustrated angry drunk, then maybe it's time to reevaluate what's important to us.
Or get wasted and run with the bulls. Good luck with that.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.