It’s still 2018? Phew. Thought i’d zoned out for an entire year. I turned 58 eleven days ago – so anything’s possible. I remember freaking at idea of turning 25, ‘omg so OLD!’ and then when i was 30 being shocked to discover i had survived my 20’s, which was unexpected.
I carefully worked out that in the year 2000 i would be 40 and that was so far in the future i didn’t really bother doing any more projections.
Now i’m approaching what in the UK would be bus-pass age (though like in the UK, pension age keeps being moved here in Oz) and not just shocked. I’m completely stunned. I see 20-30 year olds going on about bucket lists (usually pathetically low-aiming like “drive a v8” or “see band x in concert” or “go to some place when a million other people are going there too”) and wonder what happened to life? I mean, having a good one?
When did a good life come down to ‘well i saw the Doobie Bros at the WACA circa 1977 so i can die happy”? Or “the year before that, I saw Elton John, so i’m so fkn fulfilled i could cark it with the knowledge my life was perfect”? Cos i’m telling you, that seems like cold comfort from here.
Places visited, bands seen, supercars driven (a Rolls can do 140mph/225kphh on the London to Brighton motorway – hey, it was pre-motorway camera days and we were lucky over no cops – but stopping 3 tons of beast isn’t as easy), all don’t add up to happiness and fulfilment.
In fact, to me it’s just shallowness-of-being, no lightness to it. If it does mean you can die happy, then we have a problem – because somehow happiness and fulfilment have been reduced to simply ‘it was fun/scary as fk’. No work, no real effort, just some artificial fear and hey presto. It was a good life. Really? Balls.
Climbing Kilimanjaro, bungee jumping off a bit of New Zealand (it seems to have bungee jumps almost everywhere there’s a gap in the landscape), is actually just distracting yourself from your life. Yes it can be fun. But it’s not a recipe for a good life. Or even for fun that lasts more than 10 seconds.
I decided to google bucket list and discovered most of them were just lists of ‘outdoor activities’ like out of doors means ‘On my deathbed i’ll be like, smirking and y’all be jelly because when i was 17 i went on a jetski’.. I don’t fkn think so.
And if that IS all that makes a person feel their life was well-spent? Gawd. Life may be wasted on the young, but there’s a fair few older ones who could punch their ticket now and we’d all just have less in the queue for the bungee jump.
The Urban Dictionary (which has sadly not managed the gravitas that Wikipedia now claims) says a bucket list is “A list of things you’d like to do before you die, like visiting the Grand Canyon, falling in love or falling into the Grand Canyon.” They haven’t lost their sense of humour, though they have in many places been invaded by the same women-hating bigots that infest a lot of the net.
As i suspected, most people seem to use bucket list items as excuses for living – after all, if you’re too busy following the herd up Kilimanjaro or to Iceland to swim in a volcano (i know, not exactly accurate, but if you told a lot of people it was a bucket list thing, they’d be adding it as an item on theirs, a Darwinian moment of triumph) you might not notice bucket lists aren’t just for stuff that scares you a bit or is outdoors.
We all know the type – they shout (usually to camera, because these days, everyone’s a mockumentary) “Skydiving makes me feel ALIVE” as they jump out of a plane, and then die horribly as their parachute fails to open. What they actually mean, is “My emotions are completely shut down, and now – like a man who learned to masturbate with sandpaper – i can’t feel anything without first going through massive amounts of fear.”
They laugh and say yeah, i’m an adrenalin junkie. Nah, mate, what you are is an emotional cripple. Learning to have a relationship with themselves that doesn’t involve running away and jumping off a building wearing the parachutic equivalent of a small umbrella (and calling it base jumping to make out like, this is totes a sport, yanno?) would be something to really achieve, worthy of bucket list inclusion. Overcoming their fear of intimacy with another human could also go there.
So, to sum up – if you want to get through your life and not be horrified at the results when you’re 58 (or 30 or 40 or 100), look a bit deeper than the surface gloss. Yes, it’s good to travel – and easier when you’re young and cheap digs or sleeping on the actual floor can be tolerated. But take the time to learn a little.
Choose happiness, (not just ticking off items on a list that covers up the unacknowledged misery you feel inside), and life might be different. I’m glad i did – doesn’t stop the depression, but it does remind me that there’s an end to it. Depression is (for me) like waves on an beach. No matter how bad the storm, eventually they drop down.
And i get to ride a horse along the water’s edge, hooves flinging up divots of sand and spray, the light dazzling and the day about perfect.
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