The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

June 28, 2013

Have you updated your bucket list?

Friday, June 28, 2013 — This is the third time I’ve written about a personal “bucket list” and today I’m suggesting that we review our lists annually.

For those unfamiliar with the term, an excellent motion picture in 2007 featuring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman popularized the notion of a personal “bucket list” and made it a part of American culture.

A “bucket list” is a written inventory of things a person wants to do or see before he or she dies (“kicks the bucket”) or becomes too old or infirm.

Nicholson and Freeman portrayed two terminally ill cancer patients who decide to live their last days to the fullest.

Nicholson’s character was arrogant, self-indulgent, rich, twice divorced and estranged from his only child and grandchild.

Freeman’s character was a humble but intelligent mechanic who had worked hard and sacrificed all of his life to support and educate his family.

Each man compiled a list of places he wanted to visit and personal experiences he wanted to have before dying.

In a not-so-surprising twist of fate, Nicholson’s illness goes into remission and he gets an opportunity to redeem himself as a loving father and grandfather.

Freeman’s character dies but only after he becomes the key player in Nicholson’s redemption, helping him rediscover his humanity and his family.

I am convinced that many of us have been developing our own “bucket lists” of secret desires over the years.  

That may help explain the “fantasy” baseball and other sports camps where adults pay fancy prices to wear a replica big league uniform and trot onto a famous ballpark.

Now I better understand those who spend thousands of dollars to buy the car or clothes of a dead celebrity.

The joy of developing and working through a “bucket list” doesn’t have to hinge on a calamity in our personal lives.

We should be going to places and having experiences because we’ve earned the right by raising our families and working hard.

Those who’ve sacrificed for others — our family, our employer, etc. — deserve to enjoy our own lives and put ourselves first for a change.

I hope you’re working off your own “bucket list.”

Today, I have four items in mind for 2013 — a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park, an ocean cruise, a ride in a hot air balloon and a tree house for my grandchildren.

My first list included a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We’ve now done it four times with our entire family.

Keith Kappes is a columnist for The Morehead (Ky.) News. Contact him at kkappes@cnhi.com.

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