By Rick Moore
Supposedly, in the days of the Wild Wild West, if a prisoner on death row was well behaved, the sheriff would ask if he had any last request. Such requests would range from asking for a Holy Bible to a T-bone steak with a bottle of wine. The sheriff would review the list and usually agree to bring the prisoner the items in a bucket, thus the process became known as the “bucket list.” But, the story doesn’t end there. After having a last meal, the prisoner would be escorted to the gallows, have a rope placed around his neck and told to stand on his bucket. Once the bucket was kicked, the prisoner’s life was over. That’s where the term, “kick the bucket” comes from. The same bucket which brought something wonderful was also a means to a quick and final ending.
While the origin of the phrase may be a bit morbid, the modern use of the term “bucket list” is a wish list containing a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during his lifetime. According to a Stanford Letter Project, from 3,000 people interviewed, they found six common themes. Ranking from first to sixth were: travel, accomplish a personal goal, achieve specific life milestones, spend quality time with friends and family, achieve financial stability, or do a daring activity.
Visiting a favorite online store, one can keep a wish-list of items in the shopping cart. One may not be able to afford it now, but hopes for it. For several years prior to marriage, some young women keep a large wooden chest in their bedroom. They call it a “hope chest.” It can be filled with home goods ranging from cookware to a set of tea cups. The idea is to wait until marriage before using the items. While in high school, many have a list of things to do before graduating. Such lists may include lettering in a certain sport, making the honor role or being accepted by a major university. Most children write letters to Santa detailing all they would like for Christmas. That is probably the first written wish list for most people. It is amazing how wishes change as everyone grows older.
Some people live their dreams vicariously through their children. Goals they will never be able to achieve due to age or physical limitations may be lived out through others. This is seen as bad in some cases (sorry to pick on stage moms), but it can be good also. A favorite non-profit organization is Give Kids The World Village outside of Orlando. This group works closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation providing a village which rivals any theme park. It is designed especially for children with life threatening illnesses and their families. Organizations like these remind everyone that they have the ability to help others fulfill their wish-lists.
As so many do, one dreamt of going out West to view some of the major National Parks, but had no idea how to make that happen. An opportunity came when a friend asked to help film various landscapes in Utah. One enjoyed seeing the five national parks there, yet, it was a state park remembered the most, an obscure place named Goblin Valley. As the sun was setting, one took photographs of the many rock formations known as hoodoos. It looked like a scene from a Road Runner cartoon. Sometimes the best part of a journey isn’t even planned.
To prepare the “bucket list,” dig deep inside, discuss it with family members and be true to one’s self. This has nothing to do with keeping up with the Joneses or impressing others on social media. Remember this proverb: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Rick Moore is Pastor of Communications with Destiny Worship Center in Miramar Beach.