Life is not a bucket list

Many people draft a so-called “bucket list” or a list of things they wish to accomplish before they die.

The interesting thing about a bucket list is not so much what is in it but how the list changes with age. If you are a senior citizen and just working on your bucket list, chances are it is pretty well suited for your age and condition. However, if you made your list while still in your 20s and are still working on it now as a senior citizen, my guess is things have changed quite a bit.

It is not uncommon at age 24 to want to jump out of an airplane, be a stunt driver in an auto daredevil show, climb a mountain or get shot out of a cannon in a circus. At 78, things like that seldom remain a high priority and have been replaced with a desire to simply get out of bed in the morning and be able to stand up straight without finding a new pain somewhere in your body.

I can remember as a young man dancing until the sun came up on New Year’s Eve. Today, if I don’t fall asleep by 10 p.m. in my family room watching TV, I consider it a pretty racy evening.

I remember when in my early 30s thinking about actually running for President of the United States. Not only did I fail to accomplish that goal, but I have come to realize that today I seem to be the only person who is not running for president. In self-defense, I wanted to run for office to hopefully bring some common sense to the position, but today the focus of those seeking that office seems to be on outlawing common sense, so I think I missed my chance.

Having a bucket list is fine but don’t make the mistake of focusing so hard on what you might want to do that you don’t see the things right in front of you that you can do.

Personally, I don’t have a list tucked away. I try to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. I am not a group person and much prefer to share my experiences alone or with my wife. I remember very well when I led her through what seemed like a burnt forest and mounds of lava, up the side of a mountain where we were able to peer through the fissure cracks in the hard-crusted ground to see the fire and feel the heat at the base of a volcano. I promised myself I would return during an eruption, but while that opportunity never presented itself, I treasure the time I did have in the presence of that earthly beast.

Being a hunter and an outdoors person, I love pure unspoiled nature and had the exciting opportunity to be all alone and get within 6 yards of a mature bull elk in the Idaho wilderness. I can’t imagine a greater thrill.

My wife and I skied down the mountains of Utah in fresh crisp snows as the sun painted the western sky a mixture bright reds, pinks and blues. What could be more serene or beautiful?

While spending time in unknown waters on a fishing trip, we went over a waterfall in a canoe and survived, (not on my bucket list and not highly recommended, but etched in our memories all the same).

The best things in my life have involved other people. People I have met by accident and sometimes for only a moment who had some impact on my attitude, my thoughts, my values or my life. People who often opened a door for me to a different view of life through their actions or words. There were not many, maybe less than a dozen over a lifetime, but each valuable in their own right. What a waste it would have been if I had been so busy planning what I wanted to do next that I missed their interaction.

In order to “give back,” I try to keep my eyes open for people I can help, provide support for or inspire to do better for themselves and others, hopefully making the world a better place.

Life itself is the greatest bucket list. Life happens every day; opportunities abound if you only open your eyes to see them.

Adventure is around every corner. It can be skin diving among the fish off the coast of South America or it can be eating a hoagie and wetting a fishing line at Canoe Creek State Park. Adventure, beauty and memories are all around us wherever we are. We all make the mistake of being so busy living we forget to be alive.

John Kasun writes from his home in Duncansville where he is constantly on the lookout for an erupting volcano while he keeps his eyes peeled for an unexpected waterfall.