Resolutions are kind of useless. We make 'em, we break 'em, we plod ahead regardless. Change is difficult.
Bucket lists are a little more useful. We examine our lives, and what we want to put into them before we kick the bucket. With the right elements your bucket list can become a moral compass that drives difficult changes by helping you realize that what you want most is going to require you to sacrifice what you want at the moment.
I've been thinking about my own bucket list, and the usual things cropped up: I want to do a non-Interstate-Highway cross-country trip where I stop anytime there's something interesting. I want to see both Alaska and Antarctica. I want to take a cruise. I want to write a novel. You know, that sort of stuff.
But in the twenty-plus years since my parents died back in the late '80s I've had three things on my list of "must accomplish."
- Have a happy marriage, and keep it happy.
- Live longer than my mom did.
- Live longer than my dad did.
So far it looks like #1 is on track. That doesn't mean I'm allowed to coast. There are things that Sandra and I still need to work on, and they are things that we are both aware of. We communicate well, love each other deeply, and trust each other implicitly. We have been happy, we are living happily, and we are working towards staying happy and becoming even happier. This encompasses a wide range of slow-change activities that some folk might list among their resolutions.
Today I realized that I've accomplished #2. I thought, for some reason, that my mother was 44 years old when she died. Nope. She was 42, plus nine months and three days. As of this writing I'm 42, plus ten months and eleven days. This is kind of a melancholy moment for me, because doing something better than your parents did shouldn't be so easy you missed it happening. Fate set Mom's bar a little too low. Anyway, I cleared it.
Dad was 56 when he died. I've got about 15 years before I hit that mark, and I'll feel pretty good about it if I can get there. I was only 20 when my father's heart self-destructed, but if I can make it another 15 years my oldest will be almost 30. I'll have given a LOT more of myself and my time to my kids than either my dad or my mom were able to.
And that's the sort of realization a bucket-list is for. That road-trip I want to take? I want my kids with me. Antarctica and Alaska? I want to see them with three generations of Taylers present. Maybe we'll get to Alaska by taking a cruise. And maybe I'll pay for the cruise with an advance on a novel. It's not wishful thinking. These are things I can do, that I'm already mostly on track to do. I just need to make small changes here and there.
I don't need to make any resolutions. I just need to maintain my resolve.