When I was a kid we had heaps of slang terms for dying. ‘Cark it’ was a favourite (for example: ‘My goldfish carked it so Mum flushed it down the dunny’), and there was also ‘fall off the perch/twig’, ‘croak’ and of course ‘kick the bucket’. Fuck knows how that term came to be. What’s the connection between dying and kicking a bucket? The term ‘bucket list’ appeared sometime in the 80s or early 90s I reckon. When I first heard it I thought it was funny; a list of things you want to do before you sink the boot into the proverbial water conveyance. However nowadays I don’t find it funny anymore. In fact, I’ve started to hate it.
Back when you are a kid, assuming you are healthy and living in a nurturing environment, you can afford to find the whole concept of a bucket list amusing as you are over half a century away from having to face your own mortality. Bucket lists are not things kids have. They probably don’t have any lists at all. Lists start a bit later, when you have to make life decisions of your own. When a week ceases to be a long period of time, along with a month, and even a year. I’m not sure when the average person, either consciously or unconsciously, starts to compile a bucket list; I presume it’s a very personal thing.
I have no doubt that the concept of one’s own mortality is a popular feature of many peoples’ midlife crises. There is much written and theorised about the effect of the loss of your parents, something that most experience in middle age, and your own realisation that you will one day also kick the bucket. Perhaps many who suffer a midlife crisis may bust out the pencil and paper and start a bucket list. I haven’t done that as such, but I have started to consider that it may be fast becoming too late to take particular courses of action in my life.
Ok so you may consider that such a statement coming from a 50 year old is a little premature, and possibly a little melodramatic. You may even think I’m a dickhead. But consider this. Say I suddenly decide what I want to do when I grow up, and choose a university course to set me on my way to my new chosen vocation. I’ve missed the boat for the 2022 academic year, presuming I study in the southern hemisphere, which has me lining up in orientation week with my pimply first-year cohort in 2023. Let’s say I choose a three year course, which means presuming I don’t fuck anything up I will be rocking the mortar board in 2025. By then I’ll be knocking on the door of 54 years of age. Now older people find it hard to get work at the best of times, and who’s going to employ a 54 year old with a degree and no experience?
If I was to start a bucket list, it would include a bunch of adventures that require a healthy body. Apart from a little wear and tear, I am lucky enough to be still physically capable of doing what I enjoy, albeit with less endurance and longer recovery time than when I was a young bloke. But for how much longer?
On travel-related sites on the ‘net, it’s common to find ‘My (insert name of country here) Bucket List’ or ’20 Great Bucket List Travel Ideas’, or ’50 Ultimate Travel Bucket List Destinations’. I wonder what age the authors of these articles are? Too young to take the term bucket list seriously, or older people who are much more comfortable with ageing than I am? Whoever they are, I ruminate too much about this already, so the last thing I need is the term ‘bucket list’ popping up all over the place.
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