I’ve been thinking a lot about bucket lists lately. Is it conceding to mortality to pen a bucket list (as in the movie) or is it realizing the value of the days you have left and wanting to maximize each second? I’ve thought about what I would put on my bucket list, but it’s kind of like dragging your feet about writing a will for fear it will send some imminent doom crashing down on you – even though rationally you know that’s the reason you write the will.

In the past, I never placed much merit on bucket lists. If we live each moment to the fullest, what else could a bucket list possibly encompass? A bucket list may outline big, grand goals, but what about the minute details that slid past us along the way?

Last summer I spent a good portion of time recovering – from surgery, from treatments. One time I spent probably 20  minutes watching two dragonflies dart around our back yard. They danced in circles, sometimes swinging further away, then coming back, their clear, beautiful wings propelling them like miniature, silent helicopters. I would never  have thought of listing observe dragonflies as a to do item in my life, but the experience left me mesmerized by the wonder and beauty of nature.

There is no doubt that goals are important in life – ask any CEO. But so is luck, intuition, timing, raw talent, and the grace of God. We tend to forget that we are not as in control of our lives as we think we are – ask any cancer patient. So I go back to my original question. Is a bucket list a confession of, “oh hell, I’m running out of time, I better get it together,” or is it, “oh, glory there is so much awe and wonder I want to embrace every experience”?

I think if I go the bucket list route, it might be more like thinking on paper about things that would be interesting and worthwhile for investing precious minutes of my life. I’ve always thrived on being part of something bigger, of making a difference, of being the change I want to see in the world (or at least my little part of it).

With all that being said, here are a few things floating in my head for that bucket list.

Create awareness for melanoma and skin cancer. Teach teens the importance of protecting their skin. Help even one person avoid this diagnosis.

Train a service or companion dog so someone else can experience the joy and help animals can bring to life.

Record an audio book for the blind so those who can’t read the typed word can enjoy books as much as I do.

Get out my potter’s wheel again and create a unique piece of pottery for each of my children and grandchildren to remember me when I am gone.

Garden again so I can grow my own healthy, organic food, and have something to share with my grandsons. (The garden will include a mini forest of sunflowers for them to explore.)

Run a marathon. There, I’ve said it. I’ve tossed the idea back and forth, and hemmed and hawed (have I mentioned how much I enjoy the half marathon and don’t know if I’m crazy or strong enough to complete a full?) but it’s one of those things that taunts runners. Now if I can couple that with a melanoma cause, I’m certain I will finish.

Join or start a book club. I love to read. I love having time to read. I’m not at that point yet, but hopefully someday soon, I can sit and visit with people who love books as much as I do. Maybe even with other cancer survivors.

Write a book.

But mostly, hug my children and grandchildren every second I get. This is not an all encompassing list, but rather a work in progress. I’m fully aware my destiny lies in hands much bigger than mine, but sometimes you need to put things in writing to realize the potential of each moment you are given on earth.


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