Posted by: mindyourknitting | March 21, 2010

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Ever since  that Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman movie, it seems like everyone has a Bucket List.  In a culture in which “Top Ten”  or “Top 100” lists are prevalent, the idea of writing a list that enumerates big life goals appeals to a lot of people, including me.  I’m a big list-maker, so having a “life list”  (or, for the fatalists among us, a “bucket list”) of things to do or accomplish while I’m alive (or, for the fatalists among us, before I’m dead) really appeals to me.  I just can’t seem to write one.  There are plenty of examples out there – one of the more interesting versions I’ve seen is Mighty Girl’s Mighty Life List, although now I’m  a little turned off by the fact that it has a sponsor (possibly because it seems like cheating if you attain all of your goals through the agency of a corporate sponsor without any real effort on your part….I’m just sayin’).  This lady has some awesome goals (Try 1000 fruits!  Erik and I put our brains together and could only come up with 26!), and in comparison mine seem modest.  Every time I try to write a life list, I come up with things like this:

1) Finish knitting the baby blanket that I started while I was pregnant – yes, with Abigail. I know that was a long time ago. Stop judging.  And no, I don’t need to be reminded what the name of my blog is.

2)Catch up on episodes of LOST.

3)…finish PhD?

 *Yawn*  I know some people want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but I guess I’m not one of those people.  My goals are a bit quieter and tread more softly.  Part of the problem may be that my current life is so full that I can usually only manage to organize thoughts like “need to get milk on way home from work” so the idea of assigning myself  larger-than-life life goals seems a bit much.  I mean, I don’t exactly feel like a slouch, you know?  Don’t I have enough to do?  Now I also have to want to host SNL or foster orphaned pandas?  But given that I’m generally goal-oriented and love lists, I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t just jot down some awesome life goals, whether practical or fantastical, that would knock my own socks off (not to mention yours!).  And then I read the following, courtesy of Jen the Trephinist  – the whole post is brilliant, I encourage you to read it if you would like some brain food today:

“Make a bucket list if you like. Want things in life if you like. But understand that the best moments will come unbidden and unexpected; after all, their exciting novelty and breathtaking revelation will be what makes them the best. Don’t plan to the point that you cheat yourself out of genuine discovery.” 

I love this.  Although from some angles my life looks very well-planned, one that has been laid out in discreet lines from kindergarten to adulthood along paths I chose once I was old enough to choose them, the reality is that some of my best experiences, with the best outcomes, have resulted from unexpected places.   I can place a lovely happy little check mark next to the boxes for education, husband, baby, house, etc., but I love how I got here, since some of it didn’t happen how, or when, I expected it to.  And there are things I still want to achieve (yes, I’m talking about that damn baby blanket…I need knitting help…) but I also want to see what presents itself.  There are things I want to do, but I don’t think I’d be shattered if they didn’t happen, because that means other things will happen.  Opportunity has to be sought out and seized, but it also appears unbidden.  I like making room for the unbidden, the gifts life sometimes chucks at you.  I’m afraid that if my list is too cluttered and prescribed, if I’m too busy chasing itemized goals, I won’t have free hands to catch them.

Oh, and, guys?  On every single one of those bucket lists that got balled up and tossed in the trash, there was one item that appeared on every list:  “go to Scotland before I die.”  Of all the places I’ve traveled, it’s the one that hasn’t happened yet but must.  And guess what?  Against all expectations for my immediate future, definitely out of the blue, I’m going there in April.  With the love of my life.  How awesome is that?  I might have to write another lame list, just so I can check that little gem off of it.

So, what do you peeps think of “life lists”?  Do you have one?  What’s on it – the practical goals relating to family, career, etc., or really inventive things?

And I don’t know if this guy has a life list (although I’m willing to bet he does, and that there’s not much left on it), but watching this made me happy, so I stole it from the charming Bex’s site.   Because Happy is definitely on my list.


  1. I love the “Where the Hell is Matt” videos. I even downloaded the theme song. My only regret is that he didn’t pick better spots while in Canada ….

  2. They’re so much fun. Although I have to take back what I said about Mighty Girl’s corporate sponsor since finding out that Stride Gum paid for some of Matt’s trips – because really, who wouldn’t travel on a huge corporation’s dime?

  3. I made a “life list” when I was twenty. A few years later I decided it was stupid and threw it away. I regret that impulsive crumpling up of paper very much, especially considering the insight into my young mind it could give me now. Oh well.

    Scotland! As you may know, my partner in crime is Scottish. Jack was conceived there actually. We’re going back for a few months in August, wish our paths could have crossed! Where are you going exactly? Let me know if you need any suggestions… I have some peeps in the know!

    • I’ve tossed whole diaries from my teens and early twenties – it made sense at the time, probably because I was reading something truly cringe-worthy in them – but I kind of wish I had kept them.

      I’ll send you an e-mail about Scotland – I would LOVE recommendations!! It is too bad our paths won’t cross, I think we’d get along fabulously 🙂 I’d better end this – Abigail is throwing half-eaten banana at me. I’ll take that as a hint.

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