There was a movie a while ago with Jack Nicholson called The Bucket List. The Bucket List is a list of things you want to do before you die. Usually we don’t want to accept that this body is limited and eventually will die. We try to put that realization and acceptance off as long as we can. But this truth is not bad to be aware of and live our life according to.
If you discovered that you only had one year to live, that your body would be dead in one year, what would your Bucket List be? What would you want to do before you died, before it was too late to do any of those things on your Bucket List?
I don’t want to be morbid. I’m just explaining a simple and obvious truth that so many of us try to ignore. Even if you are relatively young, your death could come in a year or less. That it comes is certain. When it comes is far less certain. If we stop ignoring this simple truth, it can make our life far richer. We naturally stop doing the things that are not so essential and spend more time with the things that are. Our life become more focused and also more beneficial. Being aware of our impending death, we become more alive. Interesting, isn’t it?
Without this conscious awareness, many of us put off the most important things or don’t do them at all, imagining that there will always be time some day. Often that some day doesn’t come at all. We end up spending our last days with a lot of regrets. Simply accepting that our life is very limited can help us begin to make the most of what time we do have. It doesn’t matter if that’s 50, 25, 10, or 5 years. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 year. If we acknowledge that it could be over in a year or less, we’re far less likely to be filled with regrets when that inevitable time does come.
What’s In Your Bucket List?
When we accept that we may only have one year or less to live, our life becomes very focused. What’s most important stands out. What’s in your Bucket List? Is it to see all the 7 wonders of the world? Is it to visit places you’ve dreamed of? Is it to heal any relationships that are still unhealed? Is it to fulfill fantasies that have remained just fantasies? Is it to continue doing exactly what you’re doing with no change but perhaps a little more awareness, love and compassion? Is it to quit a money-oriented job for one of selfless service? Or the opposite? Is it to reach enlightenment before you die? Is it to focus your remaining days on experiencing as much pleasure as you can squeeze in? Is it to cure cancer or end poverty? What is it for you?
Having a limited time to do what is in your Bucket List focuses your Bucket List. The most important things tend to rise to the top. Why wait? The time of our death is uncertain, even if we are only in our 20s. Live like you’re experiencing your last days and you will live fully. You will take nothing for granted, not a single mouthful of food, not a single sip of water. Everything will become precious to you. With limited time, each contact with another person may be your last. You can’t help but make the most of it.
Average Life Expectancy Is 80 Years
I’ve thought about this. Actuarial tables say that the average life expectancy for a healthy person today is 80 years old. I’m chronologically 68 years old. That’s 12 years from now. My body seems to be relatively healthier than many males my age due to a mixture of exercise, diet and genetics. But I also know that death can come at any time for any number of reasons. So I tend to live each day as if it were my last. I take nothing for granted. I find that a good and enjoyable way to live.
My Bucket List
My Bucket List is pretty simple. It only has one item. 1. Be present. It doesn’t have anything else. There’s no number 2. There’s no wish list of certain people, places or circumstances. Just be present with whatever is in each moment, whoever you’re with, wherever you are, whatever is happening. That way a hospital or hospice bed is as good as the Taj Mahal. That is the most fully alive it is possible to be. A single moment being fully present is worth one hundred years living in a dream.
So that’s my Bucket List. That is all I ask and all I require. In this way I know I have lived fully in each moment. So there are no regrets. I squeezed every last drop out of life. And I do this in every moment. So if the next moment is my death, I’m good. My Bucket List is complete. 🙂
That’s my Bucket List. What’s yours?
Peter, I sense you are genuine, yet there is a part of me thst thinks you are bragging!!! And there is another part (growing up in Berkeley) that likes to challenge authority…. if you are as you are and I am as I am, then there is built in seperation. But then, I just watched Ghe Stroke of Insight about the two sides of the brain. She made it sound so easy, that you can choose what hemisphere you wish to hang out in.
Hi Centa. I’m not sure what I would be bragging about. 🙂 I think challenging authority is good. Although I certainly don’t feel like an authority. But I think everything should be questioned. That’s an important part of waking up, to question everything, especially our own thoughts and knowledge.
The ego experience of a separate self feels very separate, doesn’t it? But that doesn’t mean it is real. Question this. Am I really separate from all that exists? Attention is very important in our life. It is far more fluid and flexible than we think. We have been conditioned to let our thoughts attract our attention. This is what keeps attention on the left hemisphere of the brain, language, thoughts. When we realize that thoughts can never be anything other than thoughts, they no longer seem so important. They fade into the background. Our attention now has room to move to something else. Think of this as freedom from attachment to thoughts. Attention is now free to notice what is happening right in this presence, the feel of air on the skin, the sound of traffic, the amazing energy of a living body, the space in a room. Eventually we realize that attention can be very broad and take in the whole thing, everything at once, without selecting one thing or another to pay attention to. Now we are directly experience Presence, something that has always been here, that could never for a single moment not be here. We were just distracted for a while, for a lifetime. But now we’re not. It’s very nice.
There is no reason to brag about this. Nobody and nothing in all existence is capable of not being fully present at all times. Our thoughts can distract our attention from this, but that doesn’t mean that it is not always here. I don’t know if bragging is the right word. I would think noticing is a better one. I notice. You can too.
Thank you Peter for this post.
I recall that several years ago when I signed up for a Yoga Teacher Training, on a very first day of classes, teacher asked about our intention? What I wrote was: “To be present!”
It seems that daydreaming world needed to come to a threshold to finally trigger the process of awakening! Shortly afterwards, thanks to modern technology, I got to be enriched by your teaching! How incredible life is.
With love and gratitude,
Thank you, Dusica. I’m thinking I will switch the online Satsang from Wednesday to Saturday sometime this month. It will make it easier for you and others to attend. And it’s okay with everyone else who is attending.