Friday, May 2, 2014

Kicking The Bucket: How this girl stopped regretting her poor performance on life's check list

The bucket list: is it a basic requirement or an all encompassing guide to life?

Is it just me or does the globe seem to spin faster? Numerous projects are springing up to life, producing a myriad of options. A day in New York City could not be a better analogy. A metropolis, The City, as we call it, is home to endless eateries, art centers, and just about everything else. A friend of mine did the impossible, in my opinion any ways, by starting her journey before office hour and ending it past midnight. She went from Times Square to Central Park to China Town to the Brooklyn Bridge to Dumbo and so on in less than twenty-four hours. The list sounded tiring to me, a homebody who prefers book cafes instead of nightclubs and cake instead of alcohol. However, as I listened to her recount her day, I wish I had a pen and a checklist in hand to see how far she'd gone with her bucket list.

The unconventional sights that I see

Websites targeted at young adults and college students are home to a series of bucket lists. Amongst the different places available on the Internet, you can find just the perfect list for you, be it one for high school seniors, college freshmen, graduating college students, teens, twentysomethings, even thirtysomethings. Scrolling through these registries, I felt slightly dampened by the fact that seemingly I had not lived my life to the fullest. Exactly, three weeks away from graduation, I haven't played beer pong, done anything naked other than take a shower in my dorm, or hooked up. In The City, I haven't stepped foot in a club at night (yes, I have found myself in these joints in the middle of the day as part of a job), gone to a legit stand-up show, or even gone up the Rockefeller Center. Each time I inched closer to these opportunities I either forget to take the plunge or refuse to.

On the contrary, despite the lack of checks on the conventional list, I have crossed many points on the theatre or art bucket list. These requirements can be found in the Playbill in the form of all the shows that are currently playing on Broadway, or going to various Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway venues, such as The Public, BAM, or La Mama. Another is to wait for autographs and take illegal photos. Along the way I have made friends with some amazing theatre artists in The City and met up and coming people, as well. However, at the end of the day, these things are rarely presented in the run of the mill bucket list.

Who needs to go to a bar when you've got a huge toy store around the corner?

Although I feel somewhat deviant, I don't really feel bothered, at least not as bothered as I would feel as a high school student. The question is two-folds: 1) Is the bucket list a guide to life or a basic generalization of activities? 2) What type of life do we want to lead? Clearly, my priorities are mixed as I have switched the questions into an unnerving and illogical manner. So, I rearrange them in my head, whilst deciding not to do the same with their typed up version.

One thing that I have learned from Sarah Lawrence, a school that used to say "We are different, so are you", is that different is not all that different, that being said, there are still minorities at SLC. A student can still deviate from the SLC norm, because there is a norm. Even so, being part of a group or being different or both is a choice, one that is both consciously and subconsciously made. Same goes with the bucket list. By choosing the life that we want to lead, we choose or create a bucket list. You have the agency to choose the run-of-the mill list, choose a less conventional one, or write your very own. Make note that this list will change over time, accommodating your ever-evolving needs and ambitions.

Treating a bucket list as a holy grail registry limits your life experience. The road less travelled can be more fulfilling than the ordinary. Dictate your life based on your own trajectory. Even if you don't see a clear path or you seize to have your own ambitions, you have your instinct to guide you. And if you are truly, truly confused, experiment! See what goes and what doesn't.

And if all fails, go ahead and abort the mission

Since I will be leaving New York right after graduation, I scan through my current bucket list and wonder if there is anything else I should do. With a few shows to watch before leaving and a few activities and restaurant reservations on my schedule, I feel content and happy. My experience in The City won't match most of my friends' who live in Downtown New York or live in Westchester. It won't look similar as those who visit for a few days or who have stayed here for years on end. Actually, experiences are not and will never be the same across the board, as time changes, the viewer changes, and the experience itself changes.

*All photos are provided by the author

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