We watched The Bucket List the other night — quite a good flick. Actually, in several ways, the movie is the product of a group of aging Baby-Boomers coming to terms with their own mortality. The title and the premise revolves around the list of things that one wants to do before one dies… or “kicks the bucket,” rather. In this case, it’s not “one”, but two — Carter (Morgan Freeman) and Edward (Jack Nicholson).
Without delving into the realm of spoilers, Carter and Edward are gazing out at a beautiful vista in Egypt, surveying the pyramids. Carter, whose command of trivia is super-human, tells Edward that the ancient Egyptians believed that when they come to the gates of paradise in the afterlife, they will be asked two questions, the answers to which will determine whether or not they are admitted. The first is, “Have you found joy in your life?” Carter poses the question to Edward, and the viewer can’t help but review the question in his/her own mind. The second question turns out to be similar: “Have you brought joy to others in your life?” This one proves a bit more of a challenge, and again, the viewer involuntarily takes inventory as Edward makes his explanation to Carter.
It seems to me that reflecting on the question naturally turns one’s thoughts to one’s children, and to one’s family. Although I don’t subscribe to the ancient Egyptian view of the afterlife, living with these two questions in mind would not be a bad practice at all.
I don’t think it’s simply that I’m at the tail end of the boomer set, but I’m thinking a bit more about mortality and how one spends one’s days. It’s a difficult question that perhaps reveals divergent philosophies. Do you take time as you go along, spending as you need to gain enjoyment on the road — or do you save up in the hopes of an early retirement when you will spend your money, be at leisure, and enjoy yourself? We probably all are aware of anecdotes concerning people who saved up and looked forward to a retirement they never got or couldn’t enjoy due to health or the death of a spouse or whatever. We say that we need to live our moments to the fullest, never taking our health or the time we have for granted… but in reality, most of us are still waiting for a future opportunity to live this way rather than doing so in the present.
The Bucket List reminded me of these themes. I don’t have a “bucket list” of my own — I really never thought about this in much specifics, but browsing people’s 43 Things lists reveals a lot of goals or ambitions that many people would be likely to put on a “bucket list.”
I’m curious… has anyone ever made a list like this? Was it helpful or not? I presume that the idea is at least in part to motivate one toward actually taking steps to doing the things on your list — but does it? And what of my suggestion that we continue to remind ourselves to take advantage of the moment but rarely ever do, always putting it off for an uncertain future? Is this accurate, and if so, how do we explain the fact we consciously don’t take steps to live the way we say we want to despite continually reminding ourselves about it?
I’d love to see The Bucket List. It was showing on a plane I was flying on recently but the audio wasn’t good. I decided that rather than spoiling it by watching it on a tiny screen with bad sound I’d grab it on DVD sometime.
I love the concept of examining life and reminders like this movie tell us that we can’t afford to wait to put things in order.
One thing I’ve noticed is that life gets faster and faster as the years go by. We have the opportunity NOW to live life to the full and to make life better for others. I certainly don’t intend putting life on hold until I retire. I want to enjoy every day I’m given and use every opportunity to help others, including my wife, children, friends and even those I don’t know, to have a more fulfilling life. I certainly don’t always get it right but I do know that there’s a lot more to the journey than just trying to reach the destination.
I did watch the movie on my last plane ride. I hate it when I cry on planes.
i think like on dumb and dumber, we all must come to realize “life is a fragile thing Har-“…and yeah, i have done one of these lists, but to be honest, they don’t mean much if you don’t follow through. the jews are interesting bunch of people to me, i think they would have thought the bucket list was a lost cause or waste of time, because in the hebrew culture of the BC and AD they hardly every talked about what was to come or what they were going to do, which is a very western thing to do…but rather, they did first then got together and talked about it later…so sort of a post-examination bucket list. something i wish i myself were good at. and i think it is a good question in its own right, i do believe God cares whether we do enjoy life or not, because he created it for us to enjoy…have fun writing or living whichever you choose!!