October 7, 2013

Do you feel bullied by all those lists of things you supposedly must do before you die?

I don't. As soon as you remind me that I'm going to die, I feel like: What's the point of spending my precious and dwindling time trying to pack up a storehouse of memory that will be entirely obliterated? The mind is not a museum or a library to be curated and preserved. I feel inspired more than ever to reject a phony sense of obligation and live for the day.

But if you feel bullied by these 100-things-to-read/see/do-before-you-die lists, read this and this.

36 comments:

tim maguire said...

I read lists for one reason and one reason only. To complain in the comments about what they got wrong.

BDNYC said...

The experiences aren't for memory's sake, but for the pure joy of it. Why do anything for pleasure? Why read a good book? Why go out for dinner and drinks?

Maximize your happiness.

Tim said...

Reading his article, the ONE thing he REALLY needs to do before he dies is work on his l33t math skilz.

Larry J said...

Who cares about someone else's bucket list? Create your own list of things you hope to experience in your lifetime. You may not achieve all of them but it can motivate you to get off of your rear and into the world.

Carol said...

I never even heard of bucket lists until a couple years ago. I didn't know it was a Thing.

FleetUSA said...

Congrats AA.

Just this weekend I told my wife not to worry about "things to do", I said when we die there will still be "things to do" which may or may not get done by our daughter, etc. Don't sweat it. Enjoy life.

Or as I sometime say: "Do less and enjoy more".

Ron said...

Althouse, you are thinking short term! What if they get the tech to save the contents of our memories onto a server farm someplace? Will the Mind of Althouse be distinguishable from the Posts of Althouse? Will generations in the future laugh at the idea there was a "Meat" Althouse -- let alone a "Meat" Meade? (Meade may be seen as an "attachment")

You'll never die...

David said...

Not in the least.

Peter said...

The "before you die" part always seemed redundant. If one assumes one won't be able to do much of anything here on Earth after death, then "Things you must do!" would seem sufficient.

Although I suppose the "before you die" adds some drama.

Inga said...

Freedom to me, at my age, means being able to change your mind and being able to handle spontaneity. It's too easy to fall in lines and lists and predictability as we age. I lived too many years by a clock and schedules. My sister and I are perfect travel partners, neither of us has anxiety at the thought of getting lost on purpose. Some of my other friends who are my age, need to stick to a travel agenda, and seem to get nervous about veering off the path.

Michael K said...

When I was 43 I did the one thing I needed to do before I die. I sailed the Transpac race to Hawaii and came within 10 minutes of winning overall. I took my 16 year old son with me and a crew of other teens and near teens. Having done that, I can die in peace. Being 75, I have had no reason to reconsider. Also, I figured I could never do any better so didn't do the race again.

America's Politico said...

Prof. This Friday I think this amazing young person should get the Nobel Peace award. It will have an amazing effect.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/08/world/asia/the-making-of-Malala.html?hp&_r=0&pagewanted=all

madAsHell said...

Hmmm....I thought AP only showed up in even number years.

EDH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EDH said...

How many people have on their bucket list becoming Vice President?

32nd Vice President John Nance Gardner probably summed it up best:

Like most Vice Presidents in this era, Garner had little to do, and had little influence on the President's policies. He famously described the Vice-Presidency as being "not worth a bucket of warm piss". (For many years, this quote was euphemized as "warm spit".)

That's probably true of a lot of things on people's bucket lists once realized.

Michael said...

America's Politico: Agreed. An amazing story. Real courage in the face of real danger. Not, as we have seen, a prospective award should she receive it but rather an award for the real thing.

Sorun said...

Tell a Sunday School class of children that their memories will be obliterated when they die, and then wait for the awkward questions about how to recognize Mommy and Daddy in Heaven.

C Stanley said...

If you feel bullied by other people's recommendations for bucket lists, then I'd suggest the one and only important thing that should be on your own list is "Start thinking for yourself."

clint said...

I usually ignore the "before you die" part completely, and look at them as suggestions of things other people have found fun or otherwise worthwhile. I read them in the hope of discovering something that I would really enjoy that I haven't thought of myself.

And, yes, I look at them to laugh at the silly things that other people think are important.

I mean, really. I've quite enjoyed Breaking Bad, but it's not like my life would be in any way different if I'd never seen it.

John Lynch said...

Experiences and accomplishments are not the same things. One leaves a mark on the world, the other dies with you.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Lists like these are usually for people who are jealous of those who can enjoy life without them.





jr565 said...

Althouse is almost sounding like a curmudgeon. Though I do see her point. The god thing abut the lists are to remind you that if you want to do stuff in your life you don't have endless time to do it (if there were world enough and time, this coyness lady were no crime, and all that).
The problem with the list is that they are usually filled with other people's bucket list items that have no relation to your life and almost sound like chores rather than things that would interest you
Like going to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. I'll pass. Unless I can do it without having to climb a mountain and get cold in the process.

jr565 said...

What's the point of spending my precious and dwindling time trying to pack up a storehouse of memory that will be entirely obliterated?"


So you can have those memories for yourself before they're obliterated.if you never wanted to go to China then putting a trip to China on your bucket list would be silly. But what if you wanted to see the whole world and go to Cihina, but didnt. Would you want that to be a regret that you had to live with?
A list is good in that it clarifies,what you want to get done in case you forget those goals you set for yourself.
But if you're comfortorable living for,the day then you don't have regrets and probably can get by without a list.

SOJO said...

Generic bucket lists generally seemed so stupid compared to my real life goals.

Before my diagnosis, I realized I had done everything I *could* directly affect. There were things I *wanted* to do and didn't, or regrets, but they tended to be. A. things I tried to do and failed B.qualitative things that weren't under my control. (i.e. I wish I had a talent I don't have, etc.)

My mother thinks that if she had a month to live, she'd just buy a little sports car and go tooling around. What people don't seem to realize is that by that point, you feel like crap. Then add treatment on top of that, and you are no longer in the position nor mood to go tooling around in your little sports car.

For example, a small thing, but I wanted to go see Dylan Moran at his recent show and I wanted to do the zipline in Catalina. Usually I would have put these things off in the name of work and being responsible/earning money, but I now had "permission" to do them and to DEMAND others do them with me.

Small pleasures. Easy right? WRONG. My immunity got so low that I was put in the hospital and couldn't risk the exposure. And despite any tough talk about quality of life, sitting on my ass at home is better than having them try to find yet another vein in the hospital and being woken up at 2 AM and jabbed randomly in my fingers and/and bloodlet every morning at 6 AM ... almost ANYTHING is better than that. That is torture. N

Making memories is like having sex - it's the process that's the fun part - and if it isn't that fun in the moment, then you get bragging rights later and that's all. The things I can brag about and the things that truly made me personally the happiest are different. Bucket lists tend to be the former - although they do make social situations much easier, give you something to talk about, and that's no small thing.

phx said...

If anything the reminder of death stops me from accumulating that kind of detritus in my life. The idea is to focus on present rather than accumulate a wish list for later.

MaxedOutMama said...

My theory is that if you are so concerned about doing things that other people think are important before you die, you are not living your own life.

But kudos on following the Heaven, Hell, the Devil and Scalia post with this one! In the long run, our souls are our own and our own responsibility, and we can stand to hear that message at least.

But who knows? Maybe reading these lists awakes a sense of eagerness in life for some people? Maybe for some they prompt a new engagement in life?

Seeing Red said...

Since I don't have a list, nope.

William said...

Youth makes some experiences exhilirating that are vertiginous when they happen to an older body. I would urge all Victoria Secret models to lavish sensual pleasure on my manroot before they turn twenty five because it simply won't be that much fun if they wait till they're older.

Grant said...

Only someone who knows you very, very well could give you a useful list of even ten things you need to read/see/do before you die. It's a reckless tyranny to suppose that Everyone Must Understand and Appreciate The Same Things I Do.

Roughcoat said...

Good grief, here Ann (again) demonstrates her talent for taking a concept and just beating the ever-loving sh*t out of it, until it's limp and gasping on the floor, begging for mercy.

jr565 said...

I want to make a bucket list of things I won't put on a bucket list.
A few things I'm relatively sure I wont do that will go on the list:
1) I will not eat feces.
2) I will not impregnate a midget.
3) I will not blow up an airplane for Allah.

Christy said...

I did have fun and adventures that made for great tales and note comparing at the time. Now they are just stories to bore my young relations.

Indigo Red said...

When I was young, I wrote a list of 100 things to do before I died. I completed many of the items on the list when I was physically able to do so. Recently, my sister took our mother (90 yrs old) to San Diego to see the SD Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and Balboa Park with it's world class art museums because she thought we should see them. Mom and I were in so much physical pain it was hard to enjoy the newly created memories. I'm glad I decided to live in Italy for a year while still in university than try to do that today.

Mark Trade said...

I share your sentiment, Ann, but having turned 30 a few months ago I do find myself slightly annoyed by lists of things one has to do in their 20s.

Also it has always annoyed me whenever someone referred to college as "the best years of their life." What a depressing thing to say to a young person.

The best day of my life was probably yesterday if only for the reason that it was the culmination of the longest time spent away from the imprisonment of youth, until this new day ends and I am even further away.

cubanbob said...

The only reason to have a bucket list is that it gives you a reason or excuse to do what you really want to do while you can.

John Constantius said...

Eh. My sense is that all of these lists are just a reminder that life is much, much shorter than you think it is. When I was 20 I didn't think so; now that I'm over 40 it's very clear.

Basically, if there's something you want to do, do it now. Otherwise you'll be like some of the folks on this thread, making it obvious that all that bucket list stuff isn't so much fun when you're struggling through painful medical treatments. If you can actually see the bucket when you try to accomplish your bucket list, you've waited too long.

Personally, I bless my wife for saving me. All the countries I "always wanted to see", all the scuba diving I "always wanted to do" -- I've done them. And all because my wife asked me in my early 30's, "What are we waiting for?"