What is a bucket list and why would anyone have one?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary;
Bucket list (Noun): a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying
What does it mean to check something off your bucket list? This past week I managed to check 2 items off my bucket list. One of the items was to take a flight by myself because I strongly dislike flying and wanted to face my fear. The second item was to attend a NBA basketball game just because it seems like loads of fun.
Obviously checking something off your bucket list entails doing something new. It entails doing something that we consider meaningful. It can mean visiting a foreign place that peaks our curiosity about it’s culture, food, traditions and landscape. It provides an opportunity to take us away from what we know and to learn more about our fellow humans, in other parts of the world. Often times these experiences are enriching and bring us back home with a new look on life. In some cases in makes us appreciate what we have or increases our desire to change certain aspects of the life we lead. For some people a bucket list item can be to learn a new skill: cook, knit, meditate, play an instrument, learn to dance or take up a sport. It is a skill we can incorporate into our daily life. I have always loved music – it is so spiritual to me – it moves me emotionally, physically and spiritually. As I write this I am listening to a new song on Spotify and it is reverberating through my body, it is compelling me to write in a rhythmic way. I am all consumed in this moment. I wished I knew how to sing – not for myself because in my head I can already channel Janis Joplin – NOT! I yearn for the ability to sing in a way that make others welcome the soothing tone of my voice. For now singing lessons are not on the bucket list but you never know.
There are also the bucket list items that help us to unravel the mystery of where we are from. Ancestry.com has become very successful for that reason. Who are we? Where do we come from? Let’s find long lost family members? The need for connection is huge. From day one of my relationship with Kunal I wanted to travel to India. It was important to me to see where my father in law is from and the relatives he speaks about. On our honeymoon we made our way to India where I was introduced to the whole Saha family and more. Although this was over 20 years ago I carry that experience fondly in my heart. The connection made with Kunal’s grandparents, who have since passed, was so special. It was so surreal to be welcomed into a family who would carry me in their hearts with only a brief encounter – because for them I was family. Over the years my father-in-law, Kamal has kept a steady flow of information between Montreal and Calcutta. So a bucket list item can be to visit a family member for the first time, attend a family reunion or simply to visit the country of our ancestors. Our bucket list may be more consumed by seeking more information about ourselves. One common thread throughout this process is connection to others.
A bucket list item can also be one that forces us to step outside our comfort zone by pushing ourselves to the limit of our capabilities. This can mean pushing ourselves to something we have never done like run a marathon, participate in an Ironman triathlon, skydive despite being afraid of heights, go for an underwater dive despite even if we don’t like fish, sit and gaze at the stars even though you hate the dark or to leave a bad marriage. There are so many things to add to this list but this is the one that makes you question everything you know about yourself. It makes you feel an array of emotions. It makes you push forward despite your fears, forces you to breath when you feel you can’t and it promises to make you question all that you know. In essence it scares the shit out of you but your are willing to do it anyway. In the core of your being you know that doing one of these things will enrich your life. This type of bucket list item once accomplished makes you feel empowered, stronger, blissful, renewed, accomplished, changed and blessed for having taking a risk.
Let me share with you the first bucket list item I checked off my list this past week. In my 45 years of life I have never taken an airplane by myself. How is that possible you ask? Well the few times I travelled for work I was with colleagues, when travelling for vacation I have always either been with my husband or close friends. I have always been a nervous flyer but after my children were born my anxiety around flying increased. I remember coming back from Cuba once when I was so nervous both my arms went numb for the first 10 minutes of flight. Still when it gets extremely turbulent I quietly cry into Kunal’s shoulder praying to God to keep us safe. Never having taken a plane alone I knew would be challenging for me. I have always depended on my husband to take charge of all the travel arrangements and navigate us through the airport system to get us to our seats. My part is to follow suit and safely secure myself into my bubble. When I fly I take a pill to calm my nerves and a cocktail as back up. Recently I have discovered that watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians is the best download for me while flying since it is the most brainless tv one can watch.
I always watch the flight attends security drill. I count the seats to the closest exit doors. I tell myself over and over that flying is the safest form of travel. Then I try to calm myself with statistics. There are approximately 30 000 planes in the air everyday. I say to myself Audrey you have one in 19 million chance of dying in a plane crash. Finally I tell myself that regardless of where I am, whether in a plane, running, lying in bed or in a car the truth is my life is in God’s hands and can be taken at any moment. It all sounds crazy right?! Well that is how the brain of someone with anxiety around flying works. Oh did, I mention I always try to get a peek at my pilots – I like to see if they have a few years experience under their wing (lol). I smile at the flight attendants because they are the ones that are paid to keep me calm. I like the ones who are fast out with the drink cart.
So after all these years it becomes important to me to take that solo flight. To feel capable, competent and good enough. I have so many mama bear friends who travel all the time for work and they do it no problem. I want to prove to myself I don’t need to lean on my husband. I want to feel that I am able to do things my life is calling me out to do. I want to prove to myself that I can conquer my lifelong anxiety disorder. If I breath and take baby steps then I can do what I set my mind to. I think having competed in the Ironman 70.3 Mt-Tremblant this past year helped me with so many facets of my life. It highlighted the fact that living in the moment is the most manageable. To think of the bike or run while in the water doesn't serve a purpose. For once in my life, while in a race, I was fully wrapped up in the moment rather than think about the finish line. Participating in that race was also a bucket list item for me. So back to my flight. By using the tools I learned in the triathlon I was able to make it through the airport breaking it down into baby steps and thinking about where I was in the moment.
Conversation with nice bartender
Proceed to gate
Get on the plane
Ready iPad turn off cellphone
I faced my fear and took that flight. I had pangs of anxiety but I chased the negative thoughts away. I was patient and kind to myself. Over the past few years we have been inundated with memes about our fears holding us back from living our best life. I have internalized those messages and don’t want to be that person who gets in her own way of living. I want to say I did the things I wanted to do. At the end of it all I want to have as little regret as possible.
That flight made me feel good about myself. I felt empowered and fueled by the knowledge that I can do something if I really want to! I had no one to soften the blow of my discomfort. No one to hold my hand if the turbulence got to be too much. The morbid thoughts of having the plane crash still there but brushed off. We can live within our own discomfort and come out on top. Another check off the bucket list.
In the past few years I have added a few things to my bucket list. One of the items was to attend a NBA game. I thought to myself let me check to see if the Raptors are playing while I am in Toronto. As luck would have it they were. Then the thought was I don’t mind eating alone, shopping alone and going to the movies alone but attending a sporting events alone seemed blah. I reached out to a friend and asked her her thoughts about attending a Raptors game? She was game. Joanne and I already had dinner plans for the next night but we switched nights and did both. Together we caught up over dinner and cocktails then made our way to the arena to enjoy a basketball game. I can attest to the fact that we felt like kids. We cheered with the rest of them. Having a total blast. I had to buy the t-shirt to mark the occasion. Joanne did too and like silly high school girls we sported our matching tees for the second half of the game. The term may now ne lame but I will use it anyway the night was EPIC! Thank you Joanne an amazing evening, the tickets and helping me to check an item off my bucket list.
Like anything else in life a bucket list is what you make it. You can have one or not. It can be something that guides you, encourages you and fulfills you. For me it is always a reminder of the wonderful things life has to offer – no matter how big or small. What is important to me isn’t so for another person and that is okay.
So this past week thank you Toronto for helping me check two items off my list.
To learn more about a bucket list visit: www.theodysseyonline.com/10-reasons-bucket-list