Buy More Buckets

Originally published August 17, 2020 by Linda Lou Burton posting from Little Rock, Arkansas – I’m stealing a line from Ellen Degeneres. I wish I had thought of it myself. In her book “Seriously…I’m Kidding,” Chapter Bucket List, #1 is “Buy More Buckets.” I laughed, out loud, but then I thought – what a really great idea! Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson kept adding to their list (in that movie); it was just a wadded piece of paper with scribbles, but it got them skydiving. And focused on something other than their ailments. They actually DID things, rather than being stuck in their predicament. But first they STATED things they wanted to do, they put them in WRITING, and tried to figure out HOW to do them. Ellen’s idea takes it even one step further. Buy more buckets! Come up with so many things you REALLY want to do that it takes more than one sheet of paper to write them all down.

It’s a neat concept, unless you prefer whining, moping, drinking and popping pills to get through your day. And the best thing about Bucket Lists is that they are Very Personal. They are yours and yours alone. Imagine lists and lists of your very own preferences, bucketloads of just what you want to do. Not what you SHOULD do, or what you think is appropriate for someone your age, gender, color, physical capabilities, or pocketbook. It’s what’s inside YOUR head, Magic Wand stuff. Because everything begins with an idea. Like “the wheel,” or “automobiles” or the computer or cell phone on which you are reading this post.

Which is why, of course, my current Bucket List has so many things that might appear unattainable, or unreasonable, for an 81-year-old woman living on a small retirement income with a really bum arthritic knee and  too much scar tissue from a mastectomy. Walking is slow, lifting heavy things is difficult, and I hate flying. I don’t have a lot of money and I don’t like crowds and I don’t like leaving little blue-eyed Katy cat.

But I also don’t want to die without walking on all seven continents, (don’t ask me why, it’s MY Bucket List) and cruising the longest river on every one of those continents. Already ticked off the list of impossibilities (or improbabilities): Living in all 50 US capital cities! Seeing the sun NOT set on the first day of summer within the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle in the same year. Visiting the northernmost city in North America and the southernmost city in South America. Crossing the Andes in a taxi. Standing at the westernmost point on the EuroAsia land mass. Watching the sun set behind the Sahara dunes. And that’s just some of the TRAVEL wishes fulfilled. The FULL LIFE list is even more awesome to me. Having sons! Having grandchildren! Writing books! Planting trees! Learning to water ski! Getting meringue to peak!

Now back to the NDI RTW I’ve been writing about. It WAS a real trip, as it began. All my sons and my working grandchildren were invited to join me at any point along the way in a country they might want to visit; the two youngest just graduating high school accepted my invitation to join me in Iceland. All the hotels were booked, and the flights as far as New Zealand, when the bomb dropped. On February 29 I learned of the first COVID-19 case in the US. We kept watching progression, and hoping for a miracle. But as “stay at home” became the norm, and borders were closed, reality sank in. And when the US State Department Global Health Advisory – Level 4 Do Not Travel email arrived on March 19, I called a halt.

But the thing about Bucket Lists is – they are adaptable. I couldn’t actually leave on July 7, as planned, but I COULD imagine it. It’s been fun writing about all the places I still want to visit, and imagining myself doing all the things on my List. It has kept me happy, and upbeat. I can see the crowd at the airport as we trudged wearily off the plane and down the walkway last night (well, maybe I’d have asked for a wheelchair, they ARE handy and much faster than my arthritic walk). And ALL of my family would have been there to greet me; friends too, in fact, so many people waving signs and banners welcomed us back that other passengers gathered round too, and cheered. Strangers I’ll never meet have photos of Kayla and Sam and me, all frazzled and travel stinky, in their cell phone storage now, because, What Was That? An Old Woman and Two Teens just did something awesome, apparently.

Watch for my plane leaving Clinton National as soon as travel becomes feasible once again, and “seeing the world” is safe. My foot is going to wade in that Indian Ocean. And I’m going to cruise the Yangtze River, and the Volga. And the Amazon. I know, because I have them on my Bucket List.

Meanwhile I’m headed for Lowe’s today (mask on, of course) to buy more buckets.