Learning from the Bucket List

finishing a bucket list

Random Observation/Comment #223: This vacation is completely different from the ones I’ve had before. Instead of looking for purpose, I feel I’ve already found it.  I feel like I’m doing everything the same, but my mentality is just completely different.  I’m not trying to find a home; I’m just treating it as if it’s already my home.  This doesn’t mean I’ve lost those curious traveling-eyes where everything looks like it’s from another universe, but I think my overall observation about the world (whether at home or overseas) seems to be heightened.  Life has those bright and brilliant colors, and I can’t help but smile.

“The Bucket List” is a movie about two well-aged men (Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) who meet as bedmates in a hospital when recovering from cancer. They grow as friends despite being radically different and – after hearing the bad news – decide to form a bucket list of things to do before “kicking the bucket.” Jack’s character, being the owner of the hospital and just ridiculously rich, decides to help make all of these dreams come true and have fun in their final adventure.  Like most people, “travel the world” is basically at the top of the list.  So they left on that private jet and chatted about every aspect of life while touring the major attractions and seeing the majestic beauties every culture has to offer.

Warning: The following is a spoiler for the movie.  I’m mentioning the movie in this blog because I think it makes an important point about leading life.  The underlying message made me review my life and plan for a different type of happiness.

Morgan Freeman’s character is a brilliant man (you know – the type that can answer all of the Jeopardy questions) who selflessly sacrificed his entire life to financially support his family.  After finding out he only has a few months to live, he finds it appropriate to be a little selfish.  With Jack Nicholson’s character as his piggy bank and travel buddy, he goes everywhere and sees everything he’s been unable to see due to time and money restrictions.

Jack’s character is a filthy rich man with four failed marriages and an almost non-existent close family.  He indulges with Morgan’s dreams and sees the “last hurrah” as another adventure – just a simple fun way to see everything he loved about life again with a newly found friend.

Although the list itself seems like it was made to benefit Morgan’s character through the mooching off of Jack’s endless supply of money, it’s interesting to find Jack enjoying himself with a true friend.  He learned much more about community, family, and love while traveling with someone than he had ever done before.  You can say that Jack had everything he ever wanted that could be obtained with money, but he had not found a rightful place with those that should matter most.  Does that initial mask covered with material possessions actually matter at all?  Reputation is definitely important in many respects, but how much reputation do you need when you actually know someone as close as you know your best friends and immediate family?

I can probably write a full 5-page essay about this book, but I’ll save everyone the torture.  The point that struck me most (and I don’t think you need to stretch your brain too far to see it) is that the connection with those around you – the story you leave behind and the bonds you make that are unbreakable– is more important than money.  There will always be that struggle to fight for the higher paying job and own a bigger house, but I don’t think that’s worth it if there’s no one to share it with.

Although some people may argue that the girlfriends will come as money and security builds a sound foundation, I argue that girls can be incredible actresses and unbelievably greedy.  Isn’t that one of those golden rules: Never give a woman your credit card?  I’m not being pessimistic about all women, but I would rather meet someone who’s “real.”  By that, I mean, someone who is okay with being themselves and okay with that causing someone to dislike them (even if it’s me).  Sometimes we should bend and accept certain faults, but other times (which can sometimes be very difficult to gauge), we just need to back away and agree that the relationship is not compatible.

Anyway, even before watching this movie, I had some similar type of revelation. It happened sometime in September when I came back.  After traveling for so long, I still felt at home.  My friends were still my friends, but with more stories, and the scrips were still the scrips, but with new buildings.  It was simple and relieving.  I stared at the unknown ahead and planned as much as possible while making my list of goals, aspirations, and dreams.  As I thought about this community-loving nugget of knowledge, I saw something much more interesting.  I saw a web of connecting interests and a slew of dreams that overlapped.  Dreams were being made and broken every day, but there were the dreams around me that I could actually make come true.  There are lives around me that (while they don’t necessarily depend on me) would strengthen our relationship based on my plans ahead.  With that in mind, I found the bucket list to change into something much more selfless.  I still have the dreams that will help me move forward before helping others, but that choice moving into work experience was mostly for those around me.

I am selling out to help my parents: they deserve to retire and enjoy themselves as I have.  I am selling out to grow closer to my friends: we’re going to run the scrips.  I am selling out to continue making this year better than the one before: What’s better than traveling the world?  Having a place to call home (Or making enough money so you could travel the world with your friends and family.  That would just be ridiculous).

~See Lemons Believe in Community