The Bucket List — a list of things to get done before you die. For many people with such a list it now includes a bunch of travel destinations and adventures to undertake before seeing the undertaker. Is this a good approach? Associating travel and adventures with death and time running out? Really it’s not. Bucket lists go hand-in-hand with the blues, and they can also lead to over-planning and poor decision making. You might just end up killing yourself in the name of The Bucket List.
If you’ve ever traveled for an extended period or through-hiked a long trail, you’ve no doubt experienced the post travel blues. It’s a kind of fog that makes getting back to ordinary day-to-day activities a challenge. Life feels empty. The mind drifts back to moments on the trail or in another country where time moved differently because no one else’s clock set the day. These post-travel blues are largely about missing the freedom of travel and bemoaning the meaninglessness of a life built around work and money making. They fade in time and usually morph into anticipation of the next chance to get away and explore.
The bucket list blues are different. Every check off of a bucket list item means that death is closer and there are fewer adventures ahead. That’s not the greatest mindset for travel and adventure. A bucket list approach can lead to unrealistic and extreme plans that regiment an impossible schedule and end up creating misery, while it also might add weight or hidden dread to the idea of future adventures making them feel like a burden. A bucket list is all about endings; once something is done it’s checked off never to be explored again; and down at the very end of the list somewhere unwritten is death, the ultimate ending. It seems that a bucket list is designed for water cooler talk, bragging rights at work rather than an exploration of the world. It’s like a bucket hung around the neck full of weighty travel expectations.
So drop the bucket list for an adventure list or a wish list or a spirit quest approach. Seems silly enough, but it’ll change the mindset of travel before, during and after the journey. Before won’t carry the weight of a bucket list item; during will keep you flexible for doing something you never heard about before; and after will leave you more experienced (rather than closer to the grave) so that the next adventure has a good chance to be even better.