Ah, the classic "bucket list." That catalog of all the incredible things we're going to do before we cash in our chips. Filled with daydreams of running with the bulls in Pamplona, of sailing around the world or of writing the great American novel, bucket lists exist in an unknown world on paper where anything is possible. Bucket lists help us identify who we want to be and the kind of life we'd like to live. They feed our egos and let others know just how cool we are with our lofty ambitions and unlimited potential.
If you should happen to be one of those overachievers who regularly crosses things off your list with the smug satisfaction of someone who actually does what they say they're going to, this list is not for you. Please spare me your comments on the virtues of personal growth, self-improvement and seizing the day. Your bucket list is clearly more of a to-do list, and we salute you. Your journey is inspiring, your favorite hashtag is #blessed, and your Instagram is giving us all a serious case of FOMO.
But what about the rest of us? What happens when bucket lists go bad?
For most, what goes on a BL are things we think we should want to do and none of the things we actually want to do. Putting stuff on the list is the easy part. It requires nothing of us, and sometimes we end up with a document that doesn't look anything like who we really are. More than aspirational, they can be fantasy versions of our lives.
When we don't recognize ourselves in our lists, it might be because they've become part of an image we're trying to create. I don't want to bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge, but isn't that part of my brand? And anyway, if there's no hashtag, did it even happen? If I couldn't Facebrag about feeding orphan kangaroos, would I still want to do it?
What's more, the BL is the shadiest of commitments. "Someday" isn't a real day, and that makes it easy for us to put off doing whatever it is we say we dream of doing. What are we waiting for? When we don't ever put anything in the "been there, done that" column, at a certain point we're left with a bucket full of unfulfilled promises, feelings of regret, and maybe some cold, hard jealousy over Whatshisname's stupid social media pics and all the life he seems to be living.
I don't need a bossy list to remind me of my unmet potential. That's what parents are for. It's time to ditch the bucket list. In fact, I'm taking my bucket list and moving everything that no longer suits me to a new kind of list: a guilt-free fuck-it list. Because I only have so many fucks to give and I don't want to waste them going camping. No. I wanna watch Netflix. And that's nothing to be ashamed of. Netflix is amazing. If I die tomorrow, I for sure wanna know what happened on House of Cards. #noregrets
Herewith, a list of reasons to say "fuck it" to some classic bucket-list items.
Run a Marathon
Everyone wants to be the kind of person who runs a marathon. Well, not me. Unless someone's chasing me, I see no need to run. Even then, they'd better have a knife. Because, chafing. Oh, and your toenails turn black and fall off. I wish I were joking.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Carb load and watch the Olympics.
They should call it sky-dying because skydiving is basically a dress rehearsal for a horrific and unnecessary Darwinian death. No thank you.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Watch the original Superman movies while reflecting on the uselessness of a cape. At least Mary Poppins had an umbrella.
Learn to Play an Instrument
Learning an instrument is hard. Listening to someone learning an instrument is even harder. It literally takes thousands of hours to get good at this, and frankly, I'm running out of time. Plus The Mindy Project is on.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Pay for your niece's violin lessons then sit back and feel good about your contribution to the arts. Sometimes the best way to live is vicariously. No nieces? Watch The Piano while you do your nails.
Climb a Mountain
This is a standard bucket-list item, but the truth is, I don't even want to climb the stairs. And do you know what rock climbing does to your hands and feet? It costs upwards of $30k to climb that beast Sagarmatha. And you could DIE. More than 250 people have met their maker trying to climb Everest.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Watch the movie Everest and think about how much you love having unrestricted access to an ample supply of oxygen.
Get Really Good at Chess
While I suspect I'm not actually smart enough to become a chess expert, I do know that I'm insufferably competitive. I can't even let my nephew win at Connect 4. Being a chess master would turn me into someone nobody wants to be around. And remember what happened to Bobby Fischer? Me neither.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Watch Searching for Bobby Fischer while you play Angry Birds on your phone.
See a Sunrise
You know what's better than seeing the sunrise, right? Fucking sleep.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Stay up all night watching those cheesy Ethan Hawke movies with a family-size bag of SunChips.
This means giving up cheese. Why don't you just give up drinking while you're at it? Fun fact: a recent study claims that one third of "vegans" secretly eat Burger King when they're drunk. Because NOBODY can give up BK.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Watch Supersize Me while snacking on the old french fries you found in your car.
Learn to Meditate
Learning to meditate is about learning to live in the moment. But sometimes the moment sucks. Sometimes the moment is hella boring or someone's yelling at you or you're in traffic. Who wants to pay attention to that? Like your building's stupid incessant fire alarm, sometimes it's best to do whatever you can to ignore the moment.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Watch Eat, Pray, Love in the lotus position. Live-tweet the whole movie while you do your taxes.
Learn a Foreign Language
We've all heard that English is the hardest language to learn. If you're still reading this, then congratulations. You already speak the HARDEST language. The language of Shakespeare! Do you know how many people wish they were as good at English as you? Even if you flunked high school English, you're probably still pretty good.
Fuck-It List Alternative: Watch a foreign movie. Don't worry, there will be subtitles. Oh, you don't even want to do that? That's what I thought.
Not everyone is cut out for a life of adventure and dare-devilry, and that's OK. You don't need some pushy manifest to validate you. Your life already counts. If you wanna become a world-class boxer, what are you waiting for? Don't put it on some dumb list. Just do it. If you'd rather sit around in your jimjams watching Mike Tyson Mysteries all day, then do that. If you don't wanna do either of those things, tell your bucket to suck it. You can always rent the movie.