Friday, August 10, 2012

Working Towards Your Bucket List

Edgartown Lighthouse, Edgartown MA
In the movie "The Bucket List" (2007), two terminally ill men (played by Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) decided to make a list of things they'd always wanted to do before they "kick the bucket".  "The Bucket List" chronicled these two men's adventures as they crossed off the various items on their bucket lists, and how those adventures helped the two men value what was truly important in their lives.  Since then, I've heard people talk about their bucket lists.  It seems as if the bucket list became something everyone should have.  I'm familiar with goal setting and the importance of achieving your greatest desires, but from the movie as well as others' lists, I got the sense that you either have to have a lot of money or be willing to give something up (e.g.: family, career, etc.) in order to fulfill your most personal desires.

During one of our meetings, our women's group decided to compose our own bucket lists.  As I read through my list, I thought about the possibilities of attaining my desires.  I thought about whether I could possibly live in St. Maarten and have a house with a wraparound porch and live next door to my best friend (who, as far as I know, has no desire to live in St. Maarten) and be a mother and travel to all of the various countries I want to travel to and write books that make people cry, laugh, think, and grow and start a non-profit, among other things.  As it hangs on my fridge, I sometimes wonder if my bucket list is supposed to be realistic, or if the act of creating a bucket list is supposed to teach you something about what you really want in life.  I wonder if I'll be disappointed if some of those things don't get crossed off.

My Vision Board
My bucket list is similar to my vision board - it's basically all of those things I wish to have in my life, without a time assigned to them or a plan for how to attain them.  However, one of the things I've learned about making a vision board, or a bucket list, is that the first step to accomplishing a goal or fulfilling a desire is to visualize it - speak it into existence, put the intention out into the universe - however you want to view it.  Just view it!

One of the items on my bucket list is to stay in Martha's Vineyard for two weeks a year to write books.  Last year was my first visit to Martha's Vineyard.  It was a last minute invitation from a friend who was there for a film festival, and I was there only one full day.  Needless to say, my main goals were to go to the beach, visit a lighthouse, and eat a lobster roll, and none of those things happened.  However, I did try fried chicken and waffles for the first time, and I fell in love.

The entire month of July, I participate in an intensive summer program to transition incoming college freshmen to our opportunity program and the College.  I have to plan my vacations around this program.  This year, I planned a week in Orlando to visit Disney World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Upon returning from that vacation, our planning for the program began in earnest, and the relaxation I felt immediately dissipated.  I've learned that I need to have a relaxing vacation after the program as well.  This year, I remembered my short time in Martha's Vineyard, thought about my bucket list, and decided to go ahead and book a four-day stay in a bed and breakfast on the Island.  This time, I would have the time to do those things I'd wanted to do last year, but simply did not have time for.  In addition, I packed my computer so that I could write if I felt inclined to do so, and if I had time.  

I got in my car, drove to Massachusetts, and took the ferry to the island.  I had my lobster roll.  I went to the beach.  I visited a lighthouse.  And although I did not stay for two weeks, nor write a book in the four days I was there, I started working towards those things on my bucket list.  I was able to attend the Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival, where I met many people who are creating and producing stories about the African diaspora.  At the bed and breakfast, I met this funny and adventurous woman who came to the Vineyard from Abu Dhabi for the festival.  She told me stories while we had our coffee and breakfast, and we made each other laugh.  I was able to spend time with my friend, who is doing something he'd dreamed of for many years, and see him in his element, where he is most happy.  I even met one of the stars of a TV series I'd watched for years, and rode the ferry back to Massachusetts with him, talking and joking and laughing.  In that short four-day stay, I felt compelled to write this blog post less than 24 hours after leaving the Island, and I was invigorated and inspired to go back to writing my book.  It was a challenging but relaxing trip, one that helped me grow in many ways and expand my perspective. 

I did not spend two weeks at Martha's Vineyard, but the way I see it, I spent four times the amount of time I spent on the Island last year.  That brings me almost half way to my goal of spending two weeks there.  It gives me a goal to work towards, and I am already making connections and planning how I will achieve that goal in the near future.

Edgartown Lighthouse in Martha's Vineyard helps to illustrate my point.  I could see the lighthouse from far away, but it took me some time to get right up to it.  However, the entire way to it, I was captivated by the beauty of the lighthouse from far away, as well as the foliage around it.  The blue sky, the boats, and the sun glinting off of the water added to the beauty of the actual lighthouse.  Truthfully, it was the big picture that made this lighthouse a sight to see, not the lighthouse in and of itself. 

We all have our goals, our desires, and our dreams.  Whether we write them down, or cut pictures out of a magazine,  it is important to visualize what we want, but not to feel as if we didn't do what we set out to do if it's not exactly what is written on our bucket list verbatim.  I realized that working towards my bucket list is just as rewarding.  As the saying goes, "Focus on the journey, not the destination.  Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it". (Greg Anderson)