Bucket List or Bucket Filled?

“What’s on your bucket list?”

I’ve heard it a thousand times, and for most of those enquiries I struggled to provide an answer. But I don’t anymore. Hey, no offence to Morgan Freeman or Jack Nicholson or any of my friends who are happily flitting about checking off their do-before-I-die lists. It’s a good movie and a great concept. It’s just that I’m more of a “bucket filling” kind of guy than a “bucket list” kind of guy.

I see a subtle but important distinction between these two concepts. Whereas a bucket list implies scarcity of both time and action, bucket filling implies abundance. Whenever I fill someone else’s bucket, be it through an act of kindness or something as simple as a pleasant greeting, I am filling my own bucket at the same time. And when I fill my own bucket by doing something I have always wanted to do, then I am amazed to see it grow before my eyes, inviting me to fill it even more.

Lists are great for reducing daunting projects to sets of achievable tasks. They are also great for tracking what we have already accomplished. But if we’re not careful, lists can quickly become lists of lists, or worse yet, chaotic assortments of notepads, e-mail messages, mental lists and post-it notes scattered across various locations — in our home, our office, and our vehicle(s); on our desktop PC, laptop computer, two iPads and three mobile phones. And what of that list that we lost somewhere between dropping our kids off at guitar lessons (check), picking up groceries (check) and — oh, there it is, stuck to Fido’s butt!

I recently decided that I should write a list of everything cool that I have already done. I may do that one day, but my first attempt stalled after a few entries, each of which sent me burrowing down a rabbit hole of nostalgic memories. I’ve done some epic stuff, maybe even more than most people. But we all do amazing things every day, whether that is obvious to us at the time or not. Whether tending to the needs of a dependent, making someone’s day with a well-timed smile, tackling that difficult project that we’ve been putting off, or just doing a great job of some mundane task (from one of those many lists we keep) that had to get done, every positive action makes a difference. Fills buckets.

There are a lot of things I would love to do during my brief time on Earth. Surely too many to list. But for now I will keep taking life day-by-day, looking for my next adventure while attending to the responsibilities I have already committed to. If my life so far is any indication, there will be no shortage of great people and amazing experiences waiting to inspire me — and fill my bucket — along the way.

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