Bucket list

I don't have a bucket list.

According to my Facebook news feed, I am in a distinct minority. It seems like everyone else is planning to boldly jump out of planes, fulfilling a lifelong ambition to freefall through space.

If I had a bucket list, skydiving would not be on it. Neither would climbing Mount Everest, running a marathon, dogsledding across Antarctica, or any other feat testing the limits of human endurance. I've given birth, and that demonstrates enough superhuman strength for one lifetime.

But do that many people really yearn for intense adventures? I suspect not. It's more likely that these are the sorts of things people believe we are supposed to want. Somewhere along the way we are inculcated with the idea that Americans should demonstrate a spirit of adventure, and that we should be fearless. The American humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt famously said: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." 

This woman clearly never saw me attempt to roller blade.

Now, I do understand people wanting to travel overseas or have other fantastic experiences that require a long-term savings plan to make happen, but to my mind that's a shopping list, not a bucket list.

I'd argue that a bucket list is a distraction from the real work on self-improvement that we are meant to do with our lives. There is a Hasidic tale about a sage, Rabbi Zusya, who teaches that when he dies and faces divine judgment, the angels will not ask him why he wasn't more like the prophet Moses, leading his people out of slavery, or more like the hero Joshua, leading his people into the promised land. Instead, the angels will ask: "Zusya, why weren't you more like Zusya?"-meaning, why weren't you your best, authentic self?

Much as I'd like to think my authentic self is a Pulitzer Prize-worthy author who lunches with Meryl Streep, drives a convertible and wears Christian Louboutin pumps, I suspect the truth is that she is simply a kinder, more patient version of myself, still proudly working at Chicago's Jewish Federation and having lunch at her desk, and still driving a minivan and wearing sensible shoes.


Linda 2014
Empty nester Linda Haase considers lessons learned and progress made in her lifetime, through a Jewish woman’s lens.... Read More


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