Nothing Lasts Forever Not Even Bucket Lists

Have you made your bucket list? Now’s the time — write about the things you want to do and see before you become dust in the wind.

When I hear this song, I don’t think of bucket lists. Bucket lists are sort of a middle and upper middle class concept, grounded in the idea that a person can pursue an experience and hoard it like a “to do” list to prove your accomplishments. I think that’s the opposite of this song.

There is no “before” becoming dust in the wind. We are dust in the wind right now. Stepping outside of our everyday existence to have a fantasy or dream come true is akin to closing our eyes only for a moment as it slips away. The song even admonishes us “All we do Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.”  The “do” in this sense being the bucket list experience itself which is all about “doing” things in order to cram more amazing memories into our finite existence.

When I watch stories on tv or the Internet with bucket list themes, I’m struck by a few things

  • The individuals who are facing a terminal illness and want to create memories for those who are left behind, especially their young children.
  • The evidence that most subjects of these clips are white privileged people who would seem to have plenty of good memories stored up already in contrast to most people in the history of the world.
  • The stark contrast between a bucket list story and a charity story.

Bucket lists can certainly be useful tools to confront and manage our own mortality, but my general impression is that they are more about reinforcing social norms (us who have v those who need) by creating a false dichotomy in how we live our final days/weeks/months. Obviously, how we live them  – in terms of bucket lists – is dependent on how much money we have and how many resources.  Something the song itself decries.

I have friends who seem to be perpetually running away from their everyday realities to create memories. They move 100 miles an hour doing all sorts of thing and yet my overall impression is that they are quite unhappy. And tired. I wish they could experience the peace and tranquility of being happy in the here and now, not the next memory moment.

I wish I could experience that feeling more often.

Ripping lyrics out of context to spur “discussion” is a dangerous thing. The song is not advocating that we run around like crazed Western money-grubbing fools to stuff our lives with experiences so that we can lay claim to having a meaningful life before we are washed into oblivion. That’s akin to prosperity interpretations of Christianity and causes a lot of harm.



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