As I write this, it is 84 days until I turn 50. Twelve weeks. A while back, I counted the days and it was 500. And in what seems like a moment, 416 days have gone by. Time flies at a dizzyingly fast rate, and yet it is easy to think we have endless amounts. And it is here that I arrive, at the brink of 50, which while still is “just a number”, feels also like a point of reflection. It is here that I arrive, looking both ahead and inward to see how to craft the next 50 years. I think about how I want to use this gift of life I have been given. I want to develop my bucket list of not just adventures, but also a bucket list of how I want to live my daily life.
I am a New Year’s resolution gal. I always feel hopeful and trot out a list with the usual suspects—eat better, do better, smile more—but there is always a vague feeling of ideas I am not addressing in the back of my mind. Ways I want to live, if only there was the time. But if I think about it, there is probably more time than I realize. I just need to really decide how I want to live. And so, I begin to develop my new resolutions and discover how my daily bucket list will look.
One of the most important things I want in my life is to love more. I want the people I love to know it, not just by my telling them, but also through my actions. It is so easy to assume that people know how I feel. Or it is easy to feel shy and not let a friend know at all. I am going for it, and letting people I love know it. I am going to react to people through the lens of love as much as possible. When I look back and think about what mattered most in my life, it will be how much I loved and cared about others. John Pavlovitz says “At the end of this day, the world will either be a more or less kind, compassionate, and loving place because of your presence. Your move.” Now is the time to look for love everywhere and be the love we seek.
Love also calls me to stand up for what I believe in. There are people hurting, marginalized or in danger. I want my life to stand for something by speaking up for people when they need it. I want to put away my fears that my opinions or actions might be unpopular. I want my curly hair boy to see me take action and work for justice. I have a saying hanging on my wall, from an unknown source, that says “We all place ourselves in danger to one degree or another when we stand up. But we place our children and grandchildren in greater danger when we don’t.” My daily bucket list will be filled as I take a stand with and for others.
As I think about this gift of life I have been given, I want to say “yes” more to the universe. Yes to joyful moments. Yes to learning about and spending time with others. I don’t want to wait for the “perfect” time to try something new or spend time with a friend. This is the life I have been given. The time is now. Don’t wait. I want to share my dinner table with others, send that thank you card, take that trip, eat ice cream for supper, get my hair wet when I swim, let the dusting go, laugh with my family, and sing more Johnny Cash songs. Don’t wait for others to reciprocate or make the first move. Don’t just “get through the day”, instead live through the day. Thich Nhat Hanh says “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are willing to see it.”
Understandably, it is not always easy to live with a daily bucket list in mind. Some days are hard. Sometimes, it is all we have just to make it intact to the day’s finish line. The idea is not to shame yourself if you need to say “no” to something or if sometimes life is too hard to do more than you absolutely can. But then the tide changes and the life’s gifts are there waiting for you. By creating the days you want, you will have built the life you enjoyed.