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In defense of the serious bucket list

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Waking up is a wonderful experience when it’s a day you’re going to do something on your bucket list. An impending check-mark is what made a rainy morning feel like a sunny one when I opened my eyes in a downtown Sydney hostel four years ago.

It never occurred to me that I might actually fail at doing this task, given that it was hands-down the easiest item on my list, and that I’d set the entire day aside for it.

Every bucket list item, if it’s a half-serious list, comes down to an actual moment in time when you realize you’re in the midst of the thing. It’s never quite like you expected but there’s a wonderful consciousness that this is it — you made this one thing, if nothing else, real.

And sometimes it is transcendent. I’ll never forget seeing the Manhattan skyline come into view as my cab rose onto the Williamsburg Bridge, or the Student Loans clerk congratulating me over the phone when I made my last payment.

Not that these goals have to be difficult. My objective that day in Sydney was to simply see a movie by myself. There’s nothing at all hard about it, but it seemed like an important symbol of having graduated from the severe self-consciousness that made it seem unthinkable when I was a teenager.

I bought a ticket to see a 3D surfing documentary at the IMAX at Darling Harbour (which is the biggest cinema screen in the world) and when I went up to stand in line, I happened to run into six people I knew, even though I only knew about eight people in Australia. “How great is this?!” one of them said. “You can see the movie with us!”

Anyway, people have been asking whether I’ve abandoned my bucket list, because I took down the link on my nav bar above, and also because I still haven’t gone to see a movie by myself.

The list is still alive and well. It did need a major edit because it was starting to get crusty with goals that seem silly or unimportant to me now. (Eat a baguette in France?) Anyway, I did those edits and the list is up here

(I also stopped calling it a “Life List” and surrendered to the cheeky, Hollywood-born phrase “Bucket List,” only because it doesn’t require any explanation.)

The two kinds of bucket lists

There are two kinds of bucket lists: the real kind and the fake kind, or the kind the author attempts to finish and the kind that’s just a list of things the author wishes would happen to him.

I’m a big proponent of keeping a genuine bucket list, although many people think it’s silly or idealistic. I understand their objections. It seems to emphasize getting there rather than being here, and accomplishment rather than moment-to-moment experience. In my mind these are false dichotomies, and in many ways, a personalized set of “theres” waiting over the horizon (or even the possibility of them) makes here an even more interesting place.

What it does for me, more than anything, is remind me that I’m already in the middle of what’s probably my only at-bat in the game. And in that light, devoting oneself to creating an unusually rich and varied life might be the most sensible approach. In other words, it reminds you to invest your life consciously, navigating with a long-term vision rather than whatever seems to make sense this particular month or year or decade.

A bucket list isn’t the only way to do that, but it’s one way. We certainly have a way of treating life like it’s a dress rehearsal. A serious bucket list, if nothing else, reminds you that the curtain’s already up and if you want things to happen that aren’t happening, you need to be making them happen now, or getting ready to make them happen.

I understand it’s not for everyone. A lot of people probably don’t want to divide their potential life experiences between “must do” and “maybe.” But there are practical reasons to tag certain experiences as “definitely happening in my future if I have anything to say about it.”

A list can keep you from becoming complacent with ill-suited arrangements in the four major life structures (career, relationships, habits and living situation.) These are probably the biggest determinants of quality of life for many people, yet they tend to be patterns we fall into rather than strictly decide on, and we often stay in miserable or boring ones even if we don’t have to.

If I didn’t maintain a strict intention to visit a certain 15 world cities and another dozen countries, for example, I might have already given up on finding work that allows me to travel. A well-curated bucket list stretches (and keeps) your ambitions beyond your complacency zone.

Checking all your list items off isn’t nearly as important as becoming a person for whom these goals are possible. It’s not a list of needs. Nobody needs to see the Taj Mahal or run a marathon to be happy. But it might be true that making extraordinary things happen is a habit that lends itself to happiness.

Your list must change as you change, or it won’t last

A bucket list needs to last almost as long as you do, and most aren’t built to last more than a year. When I first wrote my “serious” bucket list, I also wrote a comprehensive guide on how to make one you’ll stick to, and the most important point is allow yourself to alter it as your values change. Add items as they become compelling to you, and remove them as they become irrelevant.

This seems to be a kind of cheating. If you can change the rules in the middle of the game, what’s the point? But it makes more sense when you remember that the point isn’t to simply check off a list of items. It’s to live a life beyond where your habits alone would take you. Considering an item for the list forces you to recognize that you’re either going to make it happen, or that it will probably never happen.

In my experience, if you’re not willing to edit the list, it won’t be compelling or seem realistic to you for long, and you’ll abandon it. Practicality is important (unless you have no intention of actually doing the list) and so over time certain items will no longer seem to warrant their required efforts. All of your items, if they’re really going to happen, will take real-life time and money. Any resources you devote to one will not be available for the others.

I had a lesson in this in 2012, when I decided I would see a Radiohead show on their current tour “at any cost.” I bought the ticket on a whim one day, feeling justified in flying to the nearest show wherever it was, because I figured it would be a priceless experience.

The show was incredible and I enjoyed the trip, but including airfare, show tickets, hotel, meals and other activities it was close to two thousand dollars. I don’t regret it, and it deserved to be on my list, but it was a bomb of an expenditure at the time and I’m sure I could have done it more sensibly than that.

So practicality will always influence any serious list, and what’s practical changes as years go by. When I first published my list I had done 4 out of 161 items. Now I’m at 34 out of 112. I’d still like to see the pyramids in person, but I can’t see myself booking a trip to Cairo just for that. I’m prepared to die without experiencing a hot air balloon ride, but I am determined to read The Count of Monte Cristo.

Only the sincere ones survive

A lot of you may have made lists in the past, and probably don’t know where they are now. They’re usually made with a lot of enthusiasm, but without any consideration for how these things might actually transpire in real life. I know we had to make one in high school. It had to be exactly 100 items, which is pretty much guaranteeing we’d end up with something insincere.

But there are those of us who do take bucket lists seriously for more than an afternoon, and if you make a sincere one it will largely define your lifestyle for you. People who are looking for more direction or excitement — and there seem to be a lot — could do worse than simply making a list. Inventory the things you really want to do, then consider what kind of life you would have to lead to do these things, and then rework the list until it’s both compelling and doable.

If you want to make your own “serious” bucket list, I humbly believe this post from a couple of years ago is still the best guide on the internet. When I first published it, a lot of readers vowed to make their own list, and a lot of them posted them on their blogs. If you’re one of them I’d love to hear how things have gone. Or if you aren’t, but you do have your own list online somewhere, feel free to link it below.


In other news: A while ago the great Morty Lefkoe interviewed me for a podcast as part of a series he was doing with personal development bloggers. We had a great conversation and you can listen to it (or read the transcript) here.

Photo by Dusty J

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yayaver June 8, 2014 at 11:56 pm

I had only book reading and movie to watch list. The editing part of our bucket list is so true. Unless, we don’t change our dreams with age, they became redundant. Good post… keep on writing !

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:35 am

What’s on the book/movie list?

yayaver June 14, 2014 at 2:03 am

Started goal with 100 books and 1000 movies goal… currently expanded to 500 books and 5000 movies…. 350 books and 1500 movies are yet to complete… tracking movies through IMDB and excel sheet for book wish list….


Fons June 9, 2014 at 2:09 am

Hey Dave,

Glad to see you updated your list :) I’m nowhere near completion of mine (luckily!), and this post is a great reminder to not just let it sit, but to actively do something about it! Thanks!

Also, I saw learning French and Spanish on your list, and I’m not sure if you’re aware of Duolingo or Memrise, but I thought I’d recommend them! Both are website which help you learn things, Duolingo for (many!) languages specifically, Memrise for different things, including languages.

Having had some French and German in highschool I remember the most difficult part for me was the grammar. Luckily, they thought of this with Duolingo, so they have some notes on that! If you’re looking to practice just words and staple sentences, Memrise might be better.

In any case, I try to practice once daily, and I really must say it’s helping me improve! Hope you can get something out of it too :)

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 8:53 am

I’ve heard of Duolingo, but not Memrise. I’m on a hiatus from actively learning french at the moment, but I’ve got a trip coming up to South America so it seems like it’s time to learn some introductory Spanish.

Ragnar June 9, 2014 at 2:46 am

If I tried to make an extensive list I’m not sure it would even last a week. I do however, have some long-term goals that help me stretch, grow. Should I write them down on a list, no matter how short it is? (Location independence, write book) I try to have these goals on my to-do-lists when I’m doing something relevant to them, which helps remind me why on earth I’m doing this despite my (and perhaps more notably, other people’s) concerns.

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

I say sure, write them down. There’s no reason a list has to be long. John Goddard’s list is often considered to be the original “Life list” and it is very long, but many people only have ten or so items on them. Just make sure they are truly important items.

Goddard’s list:


Andy S June 9, 2014 at 3:09 am

I find it hilarious that your friends were in the same movie that you wanted to see by yourself! It seems like an item you’d be able to have another go at pretty quickly at least.

I have a few long-term “goals” that I’d like to do, and a few things that I keep in my head, but I think I’ll follow your guide and write them down. It seems like a nice way to keep grounded and remind yourself what’s important to you in your life.

And thanks for linking back to your post, “Most lives are lived by default”. That was the first post of yours I read which got me into initially following your blog, and it seems just as relevant now as it was back then.

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:01 am

Hi Andy. If these are goals you definitely want to make happen, then make a list. It’s fun to make the list, because if you’re serious about it, you can see the scope of your life widening as you do it.

sally June 9, 2014 at 5:16 am

I’ve never made a bucket list. There are only a couple of things I would put on it, that I can think of, both travel – USA and Europe. Fairly large things I guess. Everything else I’ve done or I’m doing.

I would not need to put “go to a movie by myself” because I do it a lot, I do lots of things on my own and I like it.

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:03 am

Yeah, there’s no longer any stigma for me in going to a movie by myself, but it does represent for me a victory over the pretty severe self-consciousness I used to experience when I was younger. I go to restaurants by myself and it feels fine.

sally June 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

It’s great you’ve been able to work through that.

Kirsten June 9, 2014 at 7:35 am

Hi David! I loved this post – it completely dovetails with my own philosophy and don’t we love the people who agree with us  But, I digress. A bucket list can absolutely help us to get the most out of life possible. If there is anything to this life-after-death business, the only thing we have any hope of taking with us is our experiences. So, it behooves us to have as many and varied meaningful (to us) experiences as possible.
I think one trap people fall into is making their bucket list what they think should be on it rather than what really speaks to their soul. A rule of thumb I’ve used is this: at the end of the day, when my life is nearing an end, what is it that I would truly regret not doing. (It’s rarely the things we do that we regret, far more often it’s the things left undone).
Those are the items that go on my list. The other thing that I would add is this: it’s very helpful when making the list to a) make it as specific as possible and b) think of one thing that you can do now, no matter how small, to advance you to your first item on the list.
Have a great day!

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

I think one trap people fall into is making their bucket list what they think should be on it rather than what really speaks to their soul.

Definitely, and you can see this on a lot of online bucket lists. A lot of people list “climb Everest” and “become a black belt in karate” and I doubt they really want to actually do what those things entail.

StephInIndy (formerly StephInBerkeley) June 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

If nothing else, bucket lists remind me that I’m really alive…and really will die. The latter point I rarely forget. But the former, I could do with remembering more often. So it’s worth considering, even though I’ve never had one.

Then again, I’m one of the impulsive types. When something comes onto my radar as a must do, it’s usually done pretty quickly.

Thanks for another great post, David. I don’t always comment, but I always read and often recommend.

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:11 am

StephInBerkeley has become StephInIndy :)

I always appreciate your comments, and thanks for sharing Raptitude with people.

Free To Pursue June 9, 2014 at 7:55 am

My bucket list is a significant life tool. The creation & maintenance, not only pursuing the experiences/accomplishments, is what I consider most important. It makes me think of what I want in life, what I’m about and what I will regret not doing – similar to what Kirsten insights above.

I maintain my list regularly, updating it about once a year. And when I do, I find it interesting to note how I have changed, how what I want has changed. Those changes are usually a result of what I experience as I cross items off the list. As I’m exposed to new and different life experiences, my context changes and so, too, does what I want out of life.

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:20 am

Looks like you’re cruising! Your “done” items look like they make for a pretty vivid life. I’ll be following your progress.

I know what you mean when you say that when you finish an item, it sometimes changes the way the rest of the items look to you. After my first slow-travel trip, I removed some other long-term trips from the list, knowing how much energy and time they take to make happen.

BrownVagabonder June 9, 2014 at 8:20 am

I found the idea of having a ‘serious’ bucket list quite interesting. I am like most people on this planet – I have a long list of places I want to see, things I want to do, people I want to meet, and new skills that I want to learn. I have had this list forever, and luckily enough, I have been checking items off of it slowly through the years.
But I have quite a lot of items on that list (like appear on a Fitness magazine cover), that seem to be going nowhere, as I really don’t take it seriously. I am not working out with weights or building up my fitness in serious manner to make the magazine cover item happen anytime soon.
Reading this article makes me want to cull the list to include the most important things to me. Thanks for the post.

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:26 am

I think you will find the list more inspiring when you cull the things you don’t really want to do. It makes the whole list seem more like a plan than a wishlist. Most lists contain throwaways like the one you mention. To make the list “serious”, you have to consider what the entirety of the experience would really be like, and consider whether you can see yourself actually doing that. Appearing on a magazine cover probably means making a career shift to modeling, and if that doesn’t inspire you it will absolutely not happen. And every unrealistic item on the list makes the whole list seem more like a joke.

Ania June 9, 2014 at 8:31 am

Thanks for the inspiration to go back and revisit my own bucket list, revise it a bit, update it, etc. :-)

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:30 am

Hi Ania. Your list looks great. And you’re actually doing it. Keep us posted.

Meg June 9, 2014 at 9:14 am

Ah, bucket lists! I’ve made several, starting back when they were called Things to Do Before I Die. I’m less than a month from turning 59. The list has been getting shorter and shorter, not because I’m scratching things off, but because my priorities and options have changed. So I agree with revising a list as you go. It’s not cheating, but–

–life can cheat you out of the list. Watch out for that. If there are things on your list that require a certain amount of physical stamina (like the ones you have about surfing and snowboarding)–try to get ’em done before you’re 40. Seriously. It’s not that you can’t do them when you’re older, it’s that there’s a greater chance that you might have acquired limitations. Certainly your recovery time grows exponentially. Same with parenthood, or any venture that requires burning the candle at both ends. Do them first, if you get the chance.

My own list? Well, I scratched off a big one earlier this year, by finishing and publishing a mystery novel. It was so cool, I’m writing another one and planning the third. My bucket list now consists of earning enough to live on as a novelist, getting back to England, seeing my new granddaughter grow up, and getting the most out of every single day no matter where I am or how I feel. The rest is gravy :)

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

Hi Meg! Right, some things do become impossible or impractical, which is another reason to let yourself change it. I’m always looking at my list in terms of what I plan to do from here, and “here” is always changing.

David Magness June 9, 2014 at 9:43 am

Hi David,
I love the concept of a bucket list and at the moment only have vague ideas in my head. Will give your guide a read to gain clarity and put pen to paper.
PS I like your list :)
Warm regards,

Damia June 9, 2014 at 10:09 am

Hi David!

Yet another thought provoking post. I’ve had passing thoughts about creating a bucket list but usually when I see something in passing that tickles my fancy. But to consciously create a list that is a task I’m up for.

Michael Eisbrener June 9, 2014 at 10:11 am

As the member of a submarine crew in the 70’s and 80’s we would wait on the weather to return after 13 to 22 weeks underwater before surfacing. We surfaced always into rainstorms. Some of them off the coast of Scotland were severe. For me rain is ‘coming home’ weather not something I wish were different. I suspect bucket lists are about ‘this isn’t it’ also. If you must have a list make it the list you built before your arrival here the day you were born. Every day is today’s bucket list event. The list that says today is not ‘it’ but would be if I could be marking off my list has a tendency to defeat the day. Bucket lists are about adventures. Make each day an adventure and design tomorrows the last five minutes before you nod off to sleep.

Zozo June 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

I notice there are no female authors or directors on your books/films list.

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 10:59 am

That’s a strange thing to notice. Is the author’s genitalia a major criterion for you when you choose books? I usually go by subject matter, recommendations from others, etc.

Suzy B June 10, 2014 at 9:29 am

First let me say that I have experienced wonderful ‘aha’ moments while reading your essays, and your penultimate piece on Inner Peace has sent me into a giddy, gauzy zone of wow… more than a few times.
I am a confirmed regular to this site!
I am also female. And since I believe that differences between the sexes comprise so much more than genitalia, I think it is possible that Zozo was referring to a female ‘perspective’ when ‘noticing’ that there were no female authors or directors. I didn’t detect a judgement about it, just a question as to why — although not put in question form.
But, Bucket Lists are for the people who make them (I cannot wait to get started on mine now) and do not require anything more than what the creator of one wishes.
Thank you again for writing, it has made a difference to me.

David Cain June 10, 2014 at 10:15 am

Thanks Suzy. I think the only truly definitive difference between male and female is biological. Aside from that there are generalizations we commonly make, but a lot of people don’t fall into them. Margaret Atwood’s perspective, for example, probably has a lot more in common with William Gibson’s than with Patricia Cornwell’s. There are all kinds of reasons to choose one book over another, and for me the author’s sex isn’t going to compete with subject matter, or personal recommendations, or even the title.

I think the “why” is often a loaded question (and I guess I was assuming that it was in this case — sorry Zozo) but I’ll give you my best answer. We are only now emerging from patriarchal society in which it was about twenty times more common for men to be published writers than women. So most of what we know as the classics — the kinds of books that people tend to put on bucket lists — were written by men, not that there’s a good reason for that. Even now there is a gender gap among writers, publishers, and book reviewers.

Some people might respond to this by enforcing a conscious preference for female authors, to compensate for the lingering effects of the old boys club. I don’t want to do that. The way past discrimination, in my mind, is for sex to disappear as a criterion altogether. It seems absurd to me to pick one book over another because of the author’s sex, or race, or income level or any other traditional point of discrimination.

Suzy B June 10, 2014 at 11:51 am

A perspective that I will certainly think about, thanks.

Camila June 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

Hi, David!
How do you feel about shorter versions of a bucket list? Like new year`s resolutions?
Also, are you visiting Brazil on your South America trip?

David Cain June 9, 2014 at 11:06 am

I think short bucket lists are great, new year’s resolutions not so much. I think by making something a new year’s resolution you’re implying that you don’t expect you could just up and do it simply because it’s important. That’s just my take though, probably because I have a poor track record for them.

I’m going to confine my trip to Ecuador this time. I really would like to go to Brazil one day, but for now it’s not on the list because I there are too many other places in need the time to get to.

Belladonna Took June 9, 2014 at 4:31 pm

“Build a real bucket list” just became the first item on my bucket list. I’ll be working on it in private for a while, but plan to have it up on my blog soon. Thanks for the inspiration to live to the full!

David Cain June 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

Great! Enjoy the process, and drop me an email when you post it.

Vishal June 10, 2014 at 2:04 am

I really loved the bucket list concept. It actually a list of life goals. the thing with goals in general is that people fail to follow through on their goals. I believe visualization is critically important in this situation.

For complete information on how Visualization keeps your motivational fire burning, check out: http://gameligit.com/visualization-requirement-massive-success/

A gentle detractor June 10, 2014 at 2:04 am

To sit where you are sitting, to breathe, to simply BE : what more is there to life?

This bucket list business is juvenile. Purely kindergarten level stuff.

Not something I would expect from someone who has internalised Eckhart Tolle and Krishnamurti and the whole mindfulness and being-in-the-present concept.

Sorry, David. I give a thumbs down. From your typical blogger this article would have passed muster, but coming from you this was a let-down.

David Cain June 10, 2014 at 8:59 am

Like I said, it’s not for everyone, but that doesn’t make idiots out of those of us who find value in it. Most people recognize that goals don’t conflict with living in the present. If your life is already one great, enlightened meditation, then it’s hard to understand how you don’t know that.

Eugene June 10, 2014 at 3:52 am

Hi David!

My only real list right now is to read the 100 greatest books of all time before I turn 30. (The Count of Monte Cristo is on there too.)

So far, so good!


David Cain June 10, 2014 at 9:02 am

Sounds like a good place to start. Have you read any great ones so far that you’d recommend?

Kevin June 10, 2014 at 2:34 pm

I have never really had a specific list of books to read, but at some point in my early 20s (a decade-ish ago) when I was feeling fairly bored and discontented, I decided to start reading a bit more, both in terms of quantity and variety. It was definitely one of the better decisions I’ve made. Since the books that are already on your bucket list are almost all ones that I have either read and enjoyed, or intend to read one day, I thought I’d chip in with a few others:

My first recommendation would be to start The Count of Monte Cristo as soon as you can. It is an excellent book. I’d also like to suggest War and Peace, for two reasons. Firstly, because it is always up there in lists of the greatest books with good reason – it is a truly great book. Secondly, because it has a bit of an ‘intimidating’ reputation (which it doesn’t really deserve) and as such is probably a good way to kick off a list of classics – if you get through it and enjoy it, nothing else you happen upon in the future will seem particularly daunting! Well, it worked for me, anyway.

Stoner, by John Williams, is sticking in my mind as I read it recently. Superb, and hard to believe it had been ignored for decades until a recent re-release.

Oh. And films – Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiru Ozu. Perfection.

Amit June 10, 2014 at 8:20 am

hi david,
this is out of context but while reading this article… when i came across the link to “most lives are lived by default” i remembered this beautiful writing by david foster wallace.. the link

David Cain June 10, 2014 at 9:01 am

This speech is a classic, thanks Amit.

mary beth green June 10, 2014 at 11:58 am

Keeping a journal is one way of tracking the “bucket list.” I am in my sixties and have kept a journal since I was 16. Once in awhile, I go back and re-read the journals and am always surprised at the few things I have accomplished in life that I thought I wanted to do. This is not so sad, really! What is important to me now is the impact I am having on the more local world I travel in, and whether I will leave it and the people around me better or worse off. I think this type of thinking comes with growing older.

David Cain June 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Wow. Do you still have all those journals??

mary beth green June 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I do keep my journals–43 years worth. They take up some space but not all that much, and I can keep them in a couple of large boxes out of the way. Reading them occasionally helps me remember what actually happened rather than relying on a filtered memory. Sometimes this is beneficial; sometimes it is not.

Mr. Grump June 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I am not sure if my bucket list is of the serious type or not or even the worthwhile type. For me, I think it’s the anticipation of experiencing the experience than the actual experience. Few things live up to the hype we give them. It’s the ones that do that keep us coming back.

David Cain June 10, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Looking at my list I’m trying to think of which ones lived up to the hype (in my mind) and which didn’t. NYC exceeded my expectations by a longshot. The NFL game was fairly disappointing. Radiohead was about what I expected, which was very good.

Some totally catch me by surprise, like the Statue of Liberty, which I wanted to see in person to see if I could feel any of its intense symbolic value to seafaring immigrants. But I caught a glimpse of it by accident, at a distance great enough that it was just a shape, and something about it just blew me away.

I’m so interested in the gulf between the expectation and the experience, whichever way it goes. Settling that curiosity is another incentive behind each thing on the list.

A gentle detractor June 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Whoa! What was that all about?!

I certainly didn’t say you’re an idiot. Nor do I think goal-setting is at all antithetical to mindfulness. And where did you get that bit about my being entitled?

Let’s forget about what I really meant. I suspect you don’t want to know.

Instead, here’s a suggestion for a future post : How to not rush out with fists flying when someone disagrees with you! ;-)

David Cain June 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm

AGD, you are a fascinating character and I’m glad you read this blog. Your tone towards me flip-flops between worshipful and sneering, and most of the time I find this endearing and hilarious. Even your negative comments sound like they’re coming from a Shakespearean villain or a cartoon parody of one.

It almost seems like there is some sort of amplifier between you and the rest of the discussion that exaggerates the intensity of everything that comes and goes. There was no bit about you being entitled, (maybe you misread enlightened?) and there are no fists flying.

You are very often pedantic in your comments and I have no idea why, because you often make very clear insights. Most of the time I accept this as part your flamboyant online (maybe offline?) persona. But your comment today was obviously trollish, not simply contradictory, and normally I just delete stuff like that. But it was a regular reader, so I responded with what I think is an appropriate level of snark. This was probably a mistake, because as history shows us, AGD must always have the last word in any thread, and I should know by now that if I don’t walk away nobody will.

Joe O. June 11, 2014 at 12:49 am

I, for one, appreciate how you handled the trolling comment (looking down their nose at a bucket list for “kindergartners”). Your response was measured and even addressed the underlying concern (living in the moment versus having a bucket list).

Making a bucket list is on my to do list for after I FIRE (retire) extremely young along with making a Get-a-Life tree (from Zelinski’s books).

Thanks for the interesting reading, as always.

Mirge June 11, 2014 at 4:55 am

Hi, David,

A wonderful post. I rarely comment on your blog, but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the blog. This post, in particular, has struck a chord within me. I am now in a situation where I’m on crossroads regarding my life (finances, job, place to live, personal relationships etc.) – you can say I have a clean slate. Life List (I insist on the name – “Bucket List” means “to do before you die”, which adds the unnecessary milestone in your life full of them already) – and completing it, or starting to, at least – seems like a good idea now, as it’s among things that add meaning to life.

I have two questions for you regarding the subject. First: are things you will only do once and will probably never return to (like creating a narrated movie from your travel photos and videos, or participating in a stand-up comedy night) worth putting in the List? Second: what is the best platform to keep the List at (meaning digital vs. a blank A4 list vs. a beautiful expensive notebook vs. a cheap school notebook – I have all four under my arm at the moment – vs. anything you can propose)?

Thanks for the post! It’s inspiring and it lets young people like myself know what life is or how it may turn out.

maximyou.com June 12, 2014 at 7:52 am

Hi David, with you all the way – bucket list DO work.

Those who know have hundreds of stories to tell, that those who don’t know it works, take for some kind of vegan fairy dust.

It works because it is about the future. “Imagination is more important than knowledge” – didn’t become true when Einstein said so, but does so when you experience it for yourself – and for that, a bucket list is a real booster, methinks. Not sure whether the term, bucket list, was available at Einstein’s time, but he sure knew what was in it. Who knows, it might even explain why he didn’t just become a genius in the end, but was one from the start. Aren’t we all?

Genevieve Hawkins June 13, 2014 at 12:28 am

My bucket list experiences have always exceeded my expectations, even though none were remotely what I imagined them to be. Perhaps because I made it so by living in both the moment and the knowledge that it was a moment I’d imagined prior? It does change with time, in part because I complete something on the list then set up a higher standard, so once running a marathon was done it became running a marathon in below 5 hours (I’m a hack as runners go). Little actually becomes completed and checked so much as added to at a higher standard…but I think a bucket list can also be an exercise in living in the moment (OMG I’m REALLY here at game 5 watching my team the Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup! I’m going to soak up every second now!). So living in the moment and a bucket list do not need to be mutually exclusive. Why can’t you put living in the moment on your bucket list?

Randy Hendrix June 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Hello again, David…
Great post as always!
Gotta say…”juvenile”, “kindergarten level stuff”…sounds somewhat condescending (and trollish) to me. Didn’t feel any “fists flying” either. Perhaps someone needs to gently detract the king-sized 2 X 4 from there ass and move along to another blog.
Keep up the good work!

Randy Hendrix June 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Correction, “their” ass…thanks.

Andrew June 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Looked over your list. I’ve done a few things on there. Read Count of Monte Cristo in high school. One of the few required reads I enjoyed. I’ve seen more than one movie by myself. I haven’t done a lot of traveling. I’d suggest though if it interests you add “see a megalithic structure” to the ole list. I saw the Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio. It was pretty impressive, considering it’s this gigantic snake people built with nothing more powerful than their muscles and a bunch of baskets to carry dirt with. I want to see Stonehenge and the moai of Easter Island in person. And, of course, the Great Pyramids. I’ll have to dig out my bucket list and see if any of it is still relevant. Wrote one a year or two ago, checked a few things off, and promptly lost it haha

Edward June 24, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Actually the baguette in France thing isn’t all that silly. Not sure if it’s list-worthy, but still…

Planes from North America often land overseas at around 6:00 AM and unfortunately hotels often don’t let you check-in until 1:00 PM. Stuck with luggage, too weary to walk around and explore, I usually find a patio near the hotel that will serve morning beer, watch the good people wake up and go to work, and get myself nice and tipsy so I can pass out for 6 hours as soon as they’ll let me check in.

So, found just a such gorgeous patio in Paris and started my normal “just landed in Europe” routine. When check-in time approached, I began making my way back to the hotel. Having the munchies from 3 hours of beer drinking I stopped at a bakery next to the patio and got in the line. The man asked me (in French), “Monsieur, are you waiting for a plain baguette?” I said, “No, just anything really.” He said, “Please go to the front then.” Damn, if the array of non-plain things on sale in there wasn’t mind-blowing! I ordered a baguette with covered with bacon and cheese (Canadian after all!) and they heated it for me. When I got back to the hotel and into my room, that warm baguette was one of the most slobbering delicious things I’ve ever eaten. One of my favourite memories of France! http://goo.gl/3072CF

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Dana August 11, 2014 at 5:13 am

David, i really enjoyed this, and to be honest, all of your posts. I seem to find meaning in 1 way, shape, or form.

I did want to mention my friend that is currently living their life completing their bucket list… well he calls it a life list. His name is Danny Dover and he did a TED talk about it about 19 months ago. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0mTXioA3Sc).

Anyway if you get a chance you should should out his blog. http://www.lifelisted.com/

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