Revisiting The Bucket List: Why are we all so concerned about death?

life is full of experiences

Something strange has happened to my blog. Or, rather, to the traffic on my blog. For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting hundreds of visitors to one of my posts. Which one, you ask? The one with the gun? In fact, it’s the one with The Bucket List, a post whose essence is a list of 100 things that I want to do before I kick said bucket. Every day, people are arriving at my blog having searched things like “things to do before you die” and “things that should be on a bucket list”. I find that quite fascinating.

Personally, I love to-do lists, I love travelling, and I love learning and experiencing new things; and I suppose that on a planet of over seven billion people it’s unlikely that I’m the only one with such interests and goals. Today, more than ever, the pressure is on to achieve things, to outdo each other in the far-off places we visit or the extreme sports we undertake, to have great stories to tell of our unusual experiences. And it feels amazing! I get a thrill most of all from the experience itself, then from the feeling that I’ve done or seen something meaningful, from sharing that experience with other people, and finally from feeding off of the memories of the experience for days and years to come.

Coincidentally, I read a post from Lonely Planet today “In defence of the ‘tourist trail’” and visiting well-known sites around the world. So many cool traveller dudes would scoff at any kind of box ticking, working your way through common tourist places like the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids of Giza, the Grand Canyon… But there is a reason why these places have become such tourist attractions: THEY ARE AMAZING! I found this when I was at Machu Picchu: yes, it’s become increasingly commercialised as thousands of additional tourists flock there each year, and, yes, I’ve seen pictures of the ruins from the exact same angle many times both from the media and from my friends. But that didn’t make it any less spectacular when I arrived there after my four-day Inca Trail and took that same famous picture.

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Since writing my list of 100 things to do before I die just over one month ago, I’ve achieved four of them:

5. Visit the Iguazú Falls

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41. Sing Evita songs in Buenos Aires

life is full of experiences
53. Go paragliding (today!)

life is full of experiences
55. Gallop across a field (on a horse).

life is full of experiences
And I’ve also had countless moments and experiences that weren’t on my list – such as meeting my niece for the very first time, going for an inspiring coffee with a colleague, playing with my friend’s adorable one year old, eating ice cream by the lake, watching L’auberge espagnole at an outdoor cinema – and the list in no way detracts from those experiences. Life is much more than a list of tourist attractions, sports, and languages.

But in the end, it seems that many of us are searching for meaning, we’re looking for ways in which to experience life to the fullest before that life comes to an end – and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We just need to remember to keep living in the present, and enjoy the little moments as well as the big WOW adventures. And if we don’t manage to tick off all those 100 things on the list then that’s okay! We will have had a pretty good run…

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