I had just returned home (by the way, home does seem to have evolved to Sol y Mar) this noon after doing a bit of marketing, and turned on the telly whilst eating my lunch. The host of the programme that was on was talking about a new movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman titled “The Bucket List.” I casually listened whilst trolling through my (healthy) salad and realised that having a bucket list is a pretty important thing to have.
The whole ‘bucket’ thing did seem pretty interesting, but at first, I had no idea what the movie was all about. After the programme showed a short excerpt from the movie, I understood…and agreed that we all need our own bucket lists, and we all need to work on ticking off the items on our lists. The more I thought about it, the more I began to realise that I too probably have a bucket that needs to be filled…and then I began to consider what I might put into it.
I have been very fortunate in some aspects of my life. I went from being raised in middle America to being a British citizen (a choice I made); I have lived on a sailboat for quite a few years; I have a wonderful home on a wonderful island with a wonderful climate. I have travelled quite a bit (not as much as many others I know, of course), but I have been to some interesting places. I even had the opportunity some years ago to fly on the Concorde – something that, if you weren’t lucky enough to do it then, you won’t be able to do anymore. I have a good job, have some pretty great friends, am lucky enough to have loved ones who care about me, and have accomplished pretty much all I have set out to accomplish. And yet, I do have a bucket that I need to fill so that one day, I am not in a situation where I mutter to myself, ‘Bugger, I wish I would have….’ The big question for me is ‘what belongs in my bucket?’ And perhaps even a bigger question will be, ‘once I have things in my bucket, will I be able to do them?'
As I tend to espouse to clients the use of decision-making tools in order to take the ambiguity out of what to do and how to do it, I thought I should begin to make a matrix or perhaps even a KJ (affinity diagram…one of those blah, blah, blah business tools). But then I realised that I really didn’t need to do that. I have a pretty good idea already what needs to go into my bucket. I made a list instead.
See the Pyramids. This is sort of a ‘travel to exotic places’ item. I have dreamt of seeing the Pyramids ever since I read "Richard Halliburton’s Second Book of Marvels" as a child. This book filled my head with excitement about exploring new (and old) cultures, and even though the chapter about Halliburton’s alleged exploration of the Great Pyramid (Halliburton was an erstwhile journalist and adventurer). HIs stories were probably just rubbish, but for a young boy, they were fascinating, even if they were fictionalised to the n-th degree. The old black and white photos vicariously took me to the Egyptian sands that surrounded the Pyramids. Of course, from what I have been told, Cairo has damn-near surrounded them now and the vistas just wouldn’t be the same. Not sure if this is that important to me now.
Travel to Petra. Petra occupied one of the Halliburton book chapters as well, and it has always intrigued me. To have cut a temple smack into a stone-wall is pretty impressive, without a doubt. My attraction to Petra was only heightened when photos of it began to appear in motivational posters (usually with some cheesy comments like, ‘work really hard’ or something) and was part of one of the Indiana Jones movies. Whilst it still looms large in my list of places it would be nice to see, I am not sure that I would actually make a major effort to travel to Jordan to do it. Having said that, I don’t think it will come to me, so I guess I will need to see where this fits into my list of bucket-priorities.
Write a book. Okay, so this bucket item has been pretty much ticked off already with all the business books I have written. But in the back of my mind, I think I always wanted to write a book that didn’t discuss solely deal with the varying levels of competence (or incompetence) of managers, or as someone once told me after the publication of Gaming the System, my first book, a book that people might actually understand. I was approached two years ago by a publisher who was interested in taking the “Letters from the Village” and having me put them into a book-format. Those talks sort of broke down when I explained that I have been writing the letters as things happen, which would make it pretty difficult to have an ending to any book as things keep happening. I guess I can pretty much put a 'tick' in writing a book.
Fly my own helicopter. Years ago (many years ago actually) I almost bought a gyrocopter, which in case you don’t know, is an extremely lame excuse for a helicopter that comes usually in kit form. The one I wanted to buy was in pieces, as was the previous owner…after his kit sort of dis-assembled itself whilst in the air. With luck, technological advances have made the kits a bit more secure now, but then again, as I have never won any lottery, I probably don’t have that much luck. I think I will skip this item.
Live in a spectacular, warm, sunny climate. Okay, I am doing that. Tick.
Learn to cook well. Well, not really. I do a wicked chicken with pasta smothered in pesto and that is good enough . Tick.
Get through the security queues at Heathrow airport in less than 10 minutes. Sure. Like that would ever be a reality again.
Be able to leap a tall building with a single bound. No, hang on. That was Superman. Never mind.
Regain the missing 5% of my health after my GBS experience. For the past several years since I left hospital, I have had quite frequent check-ups with my doctors to ensure that the evil-bastard virus doesn’t return to plague me; and for the past year, my principle doctor has said ‘congratulations, you are 95% recovered.’ I have, for most of this time replied with, ‘but you keep saying I am 95% recovered. When do I find the other 5%? His response has consistently been, ‘James, for you, 95% is 100%.’ Okay, so I probably won’t ever get the other 5%, and actually, that isn’t that big of a deal at this point. Cross this one off.
Go sailing again. Ahhh, yes, this is a big bucket item for me. I had to sell my boat after the GBS mess, due to the fact that my body just didn’t do well in an environment that was bobbing around on the water. But last autumn, I was able to exist rather well on the ship that took me from Lisbon to Panama – okay, so there is a big difference in boat movement between a 17 meter sailboat (Angelina) and a 200 meter cruise boat (the Oceanis II), so maybe that experience doesn’t mean that I can sail again. I have never had a huge desire to sail around the world, but there is just something so special about living on a sailboat. Not sure I could even do this, being stuck at 95%, but I suppose if I don’t try, I will never know.
This after all, is the purpose of having a bucket. I really don’t want to end up wishing I had done some of these things, including being out sailing again. If I can’t, well then I can’t. But if I don’t try…
the cinematic bucket-listers
Concorde, the most unbelievable of experiences
the Pyramids, the way I wanted to see them
Petra, truly one of the world's marvels
a gyrocopter, before falling apart in the sky
getting ready to leap some tall building
Angelina, back in the days when I was sailing
copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley