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Cheryl Hughes: Bucket List Revisited

One day last spring, Logan came into the office and asked, “Is there some reason your car is still running?”  I blinked and thought, “Yes,” I said, “I’m old people and I forgot to turn it off before I got out.” 


                “If you ever do that again, I’m going to have you put into a home,” he said.

                “I’ll go peacefully,” I assured him.

                I still have days where I do mindless, stupid things, not necessarily forgetting to turn my car off before I exit, but still stupid enough to make me say to myself, “I just need to go to the house, and let younger people do this job.”  My brain is tired, and I find it taxing to function in the real world.

                Years ago, when I didn’t find it taxing to function in the real world, I had goals, a bucket list of sorts.  I wanted to drive a team of sled dogs through the Rockies, go punting on the River Isis in Oxford, England, and kiss the Blarney Stone in Cork, Ireland.  Standing in front of the giant Sequoias in California was on that list, as well as getting my picture in front of Mount Rushmore, and feeling the frozen mist of Niagara Falls on my face.

                Recently, I read a quote by a very old man, Jonas Mekas, who had been interviewed as part of the author’s research into aging and the effect it has on happiness.  Mekas said, “Everything’s moving into the future, but the future doesn’t exist.  It’s what we create.  Our responsibility is for the present moment.  That’s morality.  The future of humanity or the family or whatever depends on what you do this moment.  If you want the next moment where everything will be better, then you’d better do this moment right.”

                I understand what he’s saying.  When you get to the point where you have to remind yourself to turn off your car before you get out of it, you learn to live in the present moment.  For one thing, I have smaller daily goals, like maybe, I can get the kitchen counter cleaned off before I go to bed or maybe, I can throw a load of towels in the washer before I go to work.

                Even if I retired tomorrow, the list of things that it would take to make me truly happy has changed dramatically from the days of dog sledding and Blarney Stone kissing.  I want to get up in the morning and look out the window to see what the weather has brought to my door.  If it doesn’t suit me, I want to be able to say, “You know, I don’t think I’ll go anywhere today.”

                I want to be able to turn on my laptop once a week, just long enough to type this column and hit “send” to Beechtree News then turn it off until next week when it’s time to type this column and hit send once again.  I want the freedom that comes with not having to stay on the phone with tech support for hours in order to get my computer to recognize my printer—I mean, they’ve lived on the same desk for years, come on.

                Another thing on the new bucket list is having the time to box up all of the books I’ve already read, the kitchen gadgets I’ll never use and the clothes I’ll never wear then give them to others who will read, use and wear them.

                Lastly, I want to remember, like Jonas Mikas, the importance of the present moment, because that is where all of life converges and all of life disperses, going out into the world to make present moments for others that are either life-changing or unimportant.


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