Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Not my bucket.

Under friendslock, one of my friends asked about "bucket lists" or "life lists," and I decided that I should edit my comment to be suitable to repost here: I have deliberately not done that thing, and I intend to keep deliberately not doing it.

I know my own personality and attachment to lists. There are people who could make a list like that and not have it get in the way of them scrapping bits of it to do other fascinating things instead. I am not one of them. What I want to do before I die is continue to cultivate an attitude that allows me to take advantage of the interesting opportunities that come my way, and to continue to create those opportunities from sheer stubbornness if need be.

Most of the best things in my life are not things I could predict in advance. Many of them are predicated on relationships with specific people, and you can't always control all the variables--if I'd been fixated on taking Lillian to a play last spring, I'd have been disappointed, because she wasn't really ready to go when we had tickets to take her and Rob to the Ernie and Bert musical. I think now she is, and we're going to try "Annie" this spring, and in the meantime we had a lovely time with just Rob. Other things are opportunities that come up in unpredictable ways--my parents, for example, would not have put Germany on their "bucket list," but when they had an opportunity to go because of Dad's work, they had a fabulous time and still talk fondly about it among the many trips they've enjoyed. Even in the things we theoretically knew we wanted to do, some of the best moments have been completely unexpected opportunities. When we went to London with the grands, we had no idea they'd be using Buckingham Palace as a screen for projecting pictures in memory and honor of those who served in WWII--but it was really neat that they did, and my grandmother got into a good conversation with an Englishwoman sitting next to us on the kerb watching. The woman talked about her father's WWII service, Grandma talked about her brother who died on the beachhead at Anzio, and they hugged before we parted ways. Grandma would never have written down, "talk about WWII while watching photos on Buckingham Palace" on her bucket list, but it affected her quite strongly.

I occasionally struggle a little with the fact that Grandpa and I didn't get to Alaska together before he died. Going to 49 of the US states together seems worse somehow than only 43, although I would not by any means skip the last six we did, and I remind myself that's what that means--or skipping the London trip, which was wonderful, the one Grandpa listed as his favorite. But if I had not had this damnable vertigo, going to Alaska would have been a good time together, and then if he hadn't gotten that damnable bronchitis and all that followed. And the thing is, I don't want to do that. I want to cultivate an attitude of being glad for the things we did--49 states, for the love of Pete! not to mention the Canadian provinces and more distant foreign countries!--and not sorry for the things we didn't get to do. For some people, the bucket list/life list is a way of remembering their priorities, and I think it's great for people who have the mindset to use it that way--or who need to make that kind of list to get there. For me it would be a source of regret, when I'd rather consider things in terms of opportunity.

I've only said the v-word once here, but it's pretty important. We hope that I can get the vertigo under control and keep it that way from here on out, but I'm also realistic that we don't actually know whether that'll happen. And I would far rather find things that will be wonderful with the abilities I do have than fixate on what I thought would be wonderful at 20, 25, 30, whatever, and spend my time seeing the ways I've been limited instead of the ways I've found ways to enjoy the life I have. Some people find a bucket list a good way to enjoy the lives they have, and that's great. But this is why I don't think it would be that for me.
Tags: family, grandpa, life living, stupid vertigo
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