Life Lists — Before You Die

I remember Kindergarten. We sat around low tables in little chairs. We took naps on thin mats. We had lots of recesses. We pulled each other around in a red wagon following a curvy line on the playground. We pushed creamy paint around on slick paper. We had special songs to sing whenever anyone showed up with new shoes or a haircut.

Posted on the wall near the teacher’s desk was The List. Down the left side was everyone’s name; across the top was a series of seemingly insurmountable tasks:

  • Tie my shoes
  • Write my name
  • Recite the alphabet
  • Use scissors
  • Skip
  • Say my address and phone number

The goal was for every student to complete the list before the end of the year.

Even though we’re not in Kindergarten any more, some of us still make lists. They’re called “life lists” or “bucket lists” and, like the list on the back of the wall of my kindergarten class, they contain seemingly insurmountable tasks.

  • Run a marathon
  • Swim 100 miles in a year
  • Climb a mountain
  • Visit all the states

There’s even an entire genre of books dedicated to things to do, see, read, visit, watch, golf, sail, or just plain buy before you die. Motivational speaker John Goddard created a the mother of all life lists at age fifteen. Amazingly, he’s accomplished nearly all of it.

What’s the point of a life list? At the end of the year, my kindergarten list was taken off the wall and tossed in the trash. Are life list achievements going to be treated any differently?

How about creating another sort of life list?

  • Tutor a student in math
  • Give blood
  • Work in a soup kitchen
  • Sponsor a child in an orphanage
  • Donate to Goodwill
  • Go on a mission trip
  • Ring the bell for Salvation Army
  • Pick up litter on the beach
  • Serve on a jury (without trying to get out of it)
  • Volunteer time at school
  • Teach a class at church

Along the way, you just might find you enjoy doing these things. Unlike the Kindergarten list, the results of these accomplishments won’t end up in the trash.