A couple of weeks ago I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with grey whales in Loreto, Mexico. Not only did I get to watch a mother and baby play in the water, but the baby came so close to our boat I was able to reach out and pet it.
It was nothing short of amazing. Naturally I shared my experience on social media and almost immediately people were commenting that this must be a “bucket list” item for me.
Yes. And no.
I don’t have a bucket list actually.
I’m not trying to diminish the experience of playing with grey whales as not worthy of a bucket list, but I feel that by prioritizing some experiences as more important than others, I do diminish the things that might not seem worthy enough of a list.
Case in point:
Last night my 12 year-old asked me for a snuggle. Snuggles were something we did daily for many years but as she’s matured, she’s pulled away, and we haven't spent time spooning in months. I was pleasantly surprised to be asked for something I’ve missed doing with her. We lay there for a time just being in each other’s presence and I felt at peace. It was no less magical to me than petting a grey whale. In fact, it may have been more so.
Yet, if I kept a bucket list I somehow doubt I would have written down "snuggle." It wouldn't have shown up at all because we are told to strive for the grandiose things. Snuggles might seem humdrum next to bungee jumping.
Bucket lists amuse me in that I feel people hold them up a mark of success or failure in their life. That if they were to die tomorrow and didn't get to jump out of a plane or see Paris, their life would somehow be worth less. Why put that kind of pressure on yourself? Yes, it's good to aspire for certain things but I won't believe a person's worth is tied up in what they've done as much as it's tied up in how they act.
When I die, no one will stand up and recount the time I petted a whale or went white water rafting. I do hope that my daughter will privately recall the time she asked for my love and I gave it to her.
My life will not be worth less because I didn’t chase down every dream like a to-do list but worth more because I embraced the unexpected moments that came along. Whales and snuggles both make me happy.
No list required.