Emptying the Bucket


The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman brought the term “bucket list” back into the lexicon of our society, as two mismatched marauders, one rich and one a blue collar mechanic both diagnosed with terminal cancer become friends and start circling the globe scratching things off their bucket list. Most people keep a bucket list in their heads, a mental list of all the things they want to do before they “kick the bucket”.

The problem is 90% of bucket lists stay in our head and are never acted upon. That was my life, always thinking I would get to the list someday. That changed on April 15th, 2002, I was finishing up my work day and received a call. As most of us do, I was screening the calls on my cell phone and I didn’t recognize the number so it went to ignore. A few minutes later the same number popped up again. The third time it came up I figured it was someone who was being extremely persistent so I stepped out of the meeting I was in to see who this pesty caller was. My world changed as the doctor on the other end informed me that our son had been in a serious accident and I needed to come to the hospital immediately. Six hours later my son was gone, his hopes, his desires, his future and his bucket list were erased in a matter of seconds at the age of 19.

It was a kick in the pants in a lot of ways but one of the lessons learned was that you need to live life like there is no tomorrow, it was time to start crossing things off that list. So for the last 10 years I have been on a bucket list mission, to start living life and stop having life control me, shark cage diving in Cape Town, gorillas in Uganda, watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu, diving in the Galapagos, going deep into a pyramid in Cairo, dancing at Carnival in Brazil, one by one the list got shorter. All of the items on my list centered around experiences rather than buying “things”. I have always felt that things are great when they are new and shiny but with time they fade, break or require spending good money after bad. Experiences stay with you forever.

Lou and I are back on a bucket list mission, seeing the fiords of New Zealand. New Zealand is one of those things on the list that is anything but easy, expensive, lots of planning and 24 hours of sitting in a tin can racing at 500 miles per hour at 36,000 feet above the ocean. I pride myself in finding ways to complete my list in an affordable ways, using home exchanges, frequent flyer miles and traveling in ways that foreign to most people, knocking the cost down to less than we would spend renting a place at the beach for the same amount of time.  24 hours and 4 flights in a cramped seat in coach into this adventure and I am wondering did I really want this on my list? But this time we have an added incentive, the little Kel Man, Ashlie and Mike who are living in Melbourne Australia our first stop. I have found out that the biggest part of the mission is committing to it and then sticking to your plan.