I frequently run into the term “bucket list”, which makes little sense to me. I have come to learn that it is a list of things someone wants to do before he or she dies. Perhaps, the bucket comes from kicking the bucket. It does not matter. Needless to say, I do not think like that and can think of nothing special that I must do before I die. If something comes to mind, I will try to do it. Having it on some stupid list will make no difference.
I did notice an article in the Guardian on this subject, especially since it was phrased in the negative. After reading the article, I agree with the author. Having done/visited some of what is mentioned, I know that she is correct in her assessment. Of the items that I have missed, I do not feel that I have missed anything essential.
There are a few places that I might like to visit and a few things that I might like to do or repeat. I am content with my choices and happy that I can still choose. I will die as happy as one can be on kicking the bucket, which is probably not all that happy…
Recently, I had the opportunity to observe the difference between a traditional doctor and a homeopath, something with which I was not familiar. Time will tell if the advice and medicine offered will prove successful. The thing is: this caused me to think and experience a eureka moment.
Basically, the man took more time to ask questions, think about the ailment, and provide information. Most doctors listen fleetingly, if at all, make snap judgements, write a prescription for “pills”. Modern medicine wants to get people out of its hair as quickly and easily as possible. A pill or cortisone offers quick relief, but does not solve the underlying ailment. The metaphor is “painting rust”. Few care about the consequences, preferring to move on to the next easily placated patient.
People are led/forced to believe that doctors care and know what they are doing. Few recognize the cookie-cuter/assembly line process. The masses must be served as quickly, easily, and cheaply as possible.
The same can be said about food: cheap and easy. Lower the cost, while increasing the profit. Or politicos: lull people into believing that bad things are good for them.
One sees parallels in entertainment, which seeks the lowest-common-denominator to attract as many as possible at the lowest cost. The object of all these “industries” (food, medicine, entertainment,voting) seems to be about controlling, manipulating, and exploiting the masses. Each uses of fear, which is great for inducing panic, growing profits, and winning elections.
After having such thoughts, I came across similar conclusions in an excellent piece by Simon Jenkins:
“The truth is that the one disease to which there is no known antidote is panic. It is a disease that politicians and professionals (including journalists) have a vested interest in propagating.”
What’s it like to live in a world where restaurants must beg customers not to carry firearms to a meal? More importantly, what’s wrong with the people that run that world? Why do so many accept such idiocy?
I recall being in a super market, after arriving in Florida for vacation and needing to stock a rental apartment. A man pushed a shopping cart wore a hostler and pistol. I could not understand the need to wear a gun in a grocery store, but wondered if I needed to worry about the neighborhood. I quickened my step and finished shopping. We were staying in a gated and guarded beachfront property, but we did have to venture out for shopping, restaurants, and exploring.
Who wants to live in a place where one must worry about confrontation with a looney that might or might not have a firearm? Peace of mind does not result from more guns, despite NRA propaganda. Quality of life is more important than misinterpreted words on an out-dated document used for profit and power.
Note to self: stop scanning headlines of US media...
I read a New Yorker piece about someone taking an SAT test, who described the room in which the test was administered. On the classroom walls were various posters with sayings aimed at motivating students. One read:
If you aim for nowhere, that’s just where you’ll go.
I do not recall often ever “aiming” in life. I was aimless in school, which could be the reason my parents sent me to private school. Perhaps they saw potential, a concept I did not know. I excelled, but more due to competitive drive to beat my peers. I continued on to college, because that is what people did. Next, I went into the Army, because the government coerced me to play their games. I left the Army, because I did not want to spend my life doing that, which was kind of a negative aiming. I remained in Germany, because I had nowhere else I wanted to go. I entered advertising, because a job was available for a foreigner. Fortunately, the work interested me, but I never aimed for such a carrier. I moved to marketing, because I was offered a job. I never aimed for or dreamed of doing that, until it fell into my lap. I imagined that I would stop working some day, but that is not really aiming.
In conclusion, children, you don’t need to have dreams or aims to have a great life. A lot depends upon luck and timing, even if you must be well-prepared to take advantage of luck and willing to take risks involved with trying something new and unknown.
Motivational posters are interesting, but the words are not always wise.
Today, I was reminded of the absurdity of modern life. That is life in the advanced world: I changed the plastic bag in the trash can in our kitchen. This task is normally handled by the cleaning lady--another feature of affluent life--but trash pick-up is tomorrow and the damn thing needed emptying.
What is so absurd? First of all, having a trash can. Second, lining a trash can with a plastic bag. But, worst of all, is that the trash bag was scented to smell of a fresh lemon.
I thought about having seen a report of life in some African country, where people must walk miles to fetch water. I doubt that they even know what trash is, much less have a trash can or trash bags, scented or unscented.
Needless to say, I lead a charmed life...
Today, I noticed a sure sign of changing times. New guests arrived on the island: a large Chinese family, a wealthy Chinese family. One can tell by the clothes, accessories, and demeanor. This is not unusual in this day and age. What was surprising for me was to see that there was an American girl in the entourage, who appears to be the nanny of the three children. She speaks Chinese, but is obviously employed to teach the children English.
In the past, white families employed an Asian amah or a girl from some poorer country to care for the children. None were hired to teach the children a foreign language, because English was the lingua franca.
Times have changed. Who would have imagined an American girl working for a Chinese family as an au pair?
Headlines occasionally scream a warning about something being hazardous to your health. This is often a branded product or products (latest example: “bacterial” cleansers), with which some corporation(s) has made obscene profits by preying on fear of something being “hazardous to health”. It’s a constant see saw of fears and promises.
Let me clue the unsuspecting into a secret: being alive is dangerous to your health. Life causes death. No branded product, government watchdog, or phony religion will save anyone. My rule of thumb is to rely on common sense, as well as a bit of trial and error. The multitude of humans that have preceded my on this earth have built up a whole bunch of experience, so I look, listen, and read. Of course, I still cannot believe that I survived my childhood, because I pulled a number of foolish stunts.
I have written before about humans having to fill the time between birth and death. Sleeping takes up about one third, with standing in lines, eating, socializing, complaining, staring at a television, playing video games, etc. using some of the rest. Working at some job has been a major component of human life, for those lucky enough to have one. Pay has been an issue, but that is not what I talking about here.
Those with money want more and want to share less with those without. Why else would most corporations seek labor-saving methods or move jobs to low-wage countries? More and more jobs are being automated. Most automobiles are now made by robots, with humans adding finishing touches. Machines do not demand wages, health care, or pensions. No machine demands a toilet break, rest break, or lunch break. They do not strike or call in sick. They make no demands. If amazon could, they would have no humans working for the company.
So, my point is: what will people do in the future to keep busy from birth until death if there are no more jobs? How will they earn money for food, clothes, and rent? Where will they get the money to buy the products made by machines? I wonder if the wealthy think about this as they destroy jobs, accumulate ever-greater shares of the world’s wealth, and hide out in gated communities.
(Once again, I am not a communist, merely someone with plenty of time to think...)
Here’s another view:
I read the following bit in an article about the publishing industry:
Like the teenager I was and in some ways still am, I grouse about and make fun of what I have to do and the people who tell me I have to do it, even when those people are me. For all kinds of reasons, I simply have not grown all the way up. And never will. But then again, I know very few people who have. The best most of us can do is manage intermittent maturity; this was especially important in the raising of my children and in my work as editor-in-chief.
Pausing to consider the words, I realized that this is the best description of how I often feel/felt. During my working years, I did not feel that I was “grown up” enough to be in the position I occupied. I could not take things seriously enough or at least as seriously as many around me. Too many aspects of work life seemed like a game, not worth taking seriously. But, many around me took them seriously...often too seriously.
There is a saying, about being young once, but immature all your life. I have decided that, like many aspects of life, maturity is a loose concept defined by humans. Like right or wrong, this exists only in the mind’s eye of the beholder. People judge the maturity of others, as they define being right, based upon their own interpretations. Of course, we know that it’s easier to criticize, especially for religious hypocrites...
My conclusion is that, whenever possible, one must make choices in life that please oneself. Of course, one must do this in the context of society in which one must endure...or live with the consequences of doing the socially unacceptable.
Last night, while brushing my teeth, I began to think about death. Perhaps, this was caused by exposure to too much death and destruction on television. I am not worried about dying, but this is a significant and unavoidable feature of human life.
Anyways, I decided that death must have advantages, as well as disadvantages.
On the plus side, airport indignities will be over, one will no longer have to pay taxes; become upset by Fox News or other stupid 24-hour news idiots; haircuts will unnecessary; worry about what others think will be a thing of the past; putting up with stupid people will end; look for a parking space and pay for parking will be unnecessary; brushing your teeth won’t help; rap music will no longer irritate; and so on.
On the negative side, one is dead. You cannot read good book or, for that matter, any book. A glass of good wine is out of the question. Sunsets will no longer be something one can look forward to. I doubt that vacations are a feature of being dead.
Of course, there is an outside chance that hell exists (where I will end up), which be a rather large negative. So, it’s best not to think about something so inevitable and enjoy the pluses of being alive...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.