The new Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie, The Bucket List, is all about two terminally ill men going off and doing all the things on their "bucket lists," that is, the list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. Beyond the fact that few people who are truly terminal are able to insouciantly jet around with seemingly no limitations, the movie reflects the notion that the appropriate time to fulfill your dreams is when you're about to shuffle off this mortal coil.
That's hoo-ha. Which of course is easy for me to say seeing as I've dodged the need for a Bucket List so far. But here's my idea. Instead of having a Bucket List, why not sit down today--right now--and write out your Luck-It List. As in, you're lucky enough to be breathing, to have the health and strength to contemplate what you might do with the rest of your life, so sit down and write what you are going to do with it.
I started my list on Day Three of chemo: "I will have pots of African Violets on my porch." My Aunt Mary had little pots of African Violets all over her house when we first moved to the US when I was 8, and I remember looking at them like they were the neatest, coolest, prettiest, hardiest little mothers in all the world. Like, Brown Thumb Aunt Mary (I say with love) cannot kill these beauties! Rock on, little African Violets. Survive the hell that is Aunt Mary's benign neglect! Press On Regardless! When I look at them in bloom I will remember the day I wrote that wish, and they will remind me to be grateful and to remember that you can thrive no matter where you are planted.
Now before you think my Luck-It List is full of high-minded or maudlin To-Do items I have to confess that #2 on my list is: "Burn all my sweatpants not used exclusively for exercise," #3 is "Buy totally cute pants," #4 is "Get Buddha statue for garden," and #5 was (back when I was emaciated from barfation) "Get Buddha belly back."
Friends, I am pleased to announce that #12 on my Luck-It List is this, featured in the otherwise dreadful Parade Magazine: Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On!! Yeah!! However the tickets happen, this girl is going to see Bette. Not right away of course. When I asked my Dr what exactly May/June '08 would mean for me in terms of "freedom" he said, "Well I wouldn't hop a plane to Las Vegas or anything" but that I could go to the grocery store early before it's crowded. Or eat at a restaurant either early before it's crowded or outside on the patio, assuming it's not a smoking area. So while my big dream for Bette in Summer 2008 (never mind walking into a store at lunchtime) will be somewhat delayed beyond May, I'm still putting her on the list. Why? Because Bette makes me laugh, and I want to achieve #6 on my list: Laugh loudly. A lot.
If you are having trouble coming up with list items, perhaps think about some thought or philosophy you hold to, and let your mind wander to specific items from there. Most of my tasks revolve around the quote at the top of my Luck-It List: "In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways." And that's what I'm looking for these days: to be happy in small ways at all the small things I previously failed to notice.