My peers — and a multitude of others — attempt to create an incredible life, from a list of incredible things. The Bucket List, as it’s usually called, is well-established as various fantastical objectives that you’d want to accomplish before you die. It’s an understandable and fun idea, upon its premise, but there’s something fundamentally wrong with the idea.
While there isn’t exactly anything right or wrong to want to do within your lifetime, there are commonalities between many of them. Some try to find a sort of quantitative measure of success, like making a certain amount of money, or maybe something more career-oriented.
Those sorts of accomplishments appear vain, to me. What exactly do you do with your life after you complete them — waste away? I’m instead interested in the more lofty and adventurous ambitions that we set for ourselves. One in particular:
There’s such a vast world to explore and discover. I can’t think of a single person that I don’t know that doesn’t want to venture around the world.
To be able to trek across every continent, to visit the daunting wonders of Earth, or to celebrate the festivals of different cultures.
Among this craving is also the fantasy of escapism. We not only wish to visit these places of wonder, but also to stay. We engulf ourselves with the images of a nomadic self, where we’re free. A life in the wild.
Our own Genesis — where we no longer have to be petrified by our oppressive society. Where we can run, barefoot, away from the responsibilities that we’re obliged to for our basic survival, the acidic weight of our burdens and regretful pasts.
Most of us don’t even make it that far, though. Instead, we are able to find an endless supply of excuses why it’s not even possible to try to run away. Finding a false contentment in idolizing those brave enough to leave from the glare of a computer screen or phone.
There is, though, a tragedy in wanderlust. In the same sense, the entire idea of a bucket list is flawed. In that, it can make us think that the world — our oyster — can be simplified into a handful of extraordinary events. It simply doesn’t work that way.
The romanticized points of world travel, among other aspirations, take up a tiny fraction of our time and life. The same is true for our most prized memories — falling in love, getting married, having children. These are the parts of life that we value the most — if only out of sentimentality — but they are infinitely small.
Because we go back to our everyday lives. The mundane and the difficult, and most importantly, the largely forgettable and forgotten. It is not practical to live like this indefinitely, nor should anybody attempt to.
We have to be able to take time out of the mundane to step back and appreciate it. We do not need to constantly and frantically search for more when we are the few that already have so much. There’s so much beauty in the people we have to talk to every day. The nuance of life is what makes it.
The fresh start is a myth, no matter where you go, you take your mind with you. That’s what is actually bothering you, as much as it seems that it’s the world around you. Our problems are ours, they do not stay static as we move on. You will still be the same person, with the same fears and flaws, no matter what climate you decide to quickly run off too.
The pragmatic alternative is working on yourself. Find refuge in the things you can enjoy, no matter where you are. But understand that even in the things you enjoy come difficulty.
To get truly good at something — which is necessary to become a valuable person —you’re going to have to do things that you don’t like doing. It’s going to get hard and you’re going to get tired. There’s no way to avoid this, do not try to find shortcuts, work through it instead. Grit has been proven to be a fundamental asset to success, and consequently, happiness.
When you’re able to find contentment within yourself, when you stop trying to look for a solution elsewhere, life no longer seems like a hectic series of rambling memories that pass you by too quickly. Only when you surrender your pursuit of happiness are you able to find happiness within the pursuit.