My first introduction to creating a “bucket list” was during my time working at the local Macmillan Unit as a volunteer coordinator. During a training session, our inspirational matron gave everyone a copy of the Dying Matters “Five things I want to do before I die” form to complete. On the reverse was “Five things I want to be remembered by”.
You would think this was easy to do wouldn’t you? Matron explained that working in a hospice meant it was more important than ever to go off and do the things you want, before it was too late!
Well, we all sat there, pen poised, looking at our forms and struggling to fill in just five things we wanted to do before we died. I certainly could not think of anything I wanted to be remembered for! I was too busy working and looking after my family. There was no time for bucket lists.
But it struck a chord with me. At another training session with an equally inspirational volunteer, Mandy Preece, who said “you have to find your joy”! As Mandy went around the room asking people what gives them joy she got to me and I said “riding my horse”. Great. But, I had stopped riding my horse! I didn’t think I had the time. Something had to change.
Mandy is an incredible person. As a volunteer, she sat with patients at the end of their life whilst they died, so they did not die alone. In her book ‘Being Rock’ Mandy explains that she has listened to countless people talk about their lives as they reach their final few days or hours. They don’t talk about their nice house, the posh car or the wealth they have accumulated. They talk about wonderful memories, fabulous places they have visited and the joy they have shared with loved ones.
I needed to do my bucket list. But, what did I want to do to bring me joy?
My friend Shirley was walking the South West Coast Path with a friend. I was so envious. “What a wonderful experience” I used to say to her whilst hearing all about her adventures with her friend Sue. “There is no way we could do that”, I used to say to my husband. We are just too busy.
One day a friend of mine suggested we went for a walk. I asked if we could walk Studland to Swanage, which she readily agreed to. This was the first section of the coastal path, which goes from Studland to Minehead. I had started! Three years later I am only half way round but it has led to so many joyous moments that I am completely hooked. When one section is completed, I am frantically planning the next section, and we cannot wait to go back!
My husband and I now have our respective lists and look forward, with excitement, to finishing them so we can create bucket list number two!
Bucket lists are not like Wills; depressing things to think about and trying to avoid. A colleague did her bucket list over a (pre-Covid) dinner party. Screaming with laughter, by the end of the evening they were all leaving work for a gap year and going around the world!
Bucket lists can be scraps of paper, basic note pads, beautiful personalised notebooks as gifts or even handmade jars containing wooden sticks to write on. If your list is public then people have an untapped resource of ideas for gifts to enhance your experience. Walking poles, seats, hats, gloves, ruck sacks, camping equipment, National Trust membership to enjoy en-route, Ordnance Survey subscription, books on the coastal path ….. and much more. Just the simple joy of walking can create invaluable and inspiring sustainable gifts.
So, why not ask for a bucket list notebook as a gift, or a lovely hand-made jar for which to place your ideas, and start your inspirational journey of joy, for you! No one else! There is no time limit to do a bucket list. No pressure. But, you will be amazed how opportunities will come into your life to complete some of these activities.
Now, on my last walk I was watching people kayaking in the sea and thinking how wonderful it must be to explore some of the caves on the coastal path. Where is my list! I need to add kayaking to it!