My Anti-Bucket List: The Things I Won't Do
My husband and I were having a talk the other night about how fast time is flying by – how weeks fly and we do all we can to keep up with work and friends. Our life really is quite simple – we both work full-time, are involved in a spiritual community (church + small group Bible study); we both act as volunteer tutors once a week, and we both love having people over. We don’t try to do anything big and complicated, but it often seems like just working and keeping up with friends and finding time for our marriage leave little room for anything else – hobbies, projects, exploring new places in Charlotte…
There aren’t many “things” I want to cut out of my life. Again, our life outside of work is based on relationships, and that’s how I want it to be. However, I find myself wishing I had more time to do the things I love. Instead of cutting “events” from my life, I started to think a little differently. What time-wasters can I eliminate? What thoughts do I need to “take captive” so that my mind is centered around the things of God?
I first heard of the idea for a list like this from author Shauna Niequest, and my friend Ashley reminded me of it last week. The idea is that we “prune” our lives – get rid of good things to make way for the best things or the right things. Instead of a “bucket list,” make a list of things I won’t do.
Before I started writing this post, I had no idea how hard it would be to say “never.” I’ve realized that these “things I won’t do” are more like “things I will try hard not to do” – so many days, I’m living the Romans 7 life:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
For what it’s worth, after that disclaimer, here’s my list:
The Things I Won’t Do
Apologize for liking to write.
I love to write. I love to explore a thought or idea, to reflect on something I’m learning; I love the conversation that sharing my writing brings about. It is one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done – it wakes my soul and gets my mind going. It gives me a space to experience silence and solitude that I can’t seem to find doing anything else. So, instead of feeling insecure and worrying that others will think my words are silly and uninformed, I will just write. And I won’t apologize for liking it, for the good things it does for my soul.
Make the bed
My husband and I are getting pretty grown up, but we have not reached “pillow sham” level adulthood. We have a sheet set and a quilt, so even when we make the bed, so our distinguished guests can come over for distinguished dinner parties (sarcasm), it’s nothing to write home about. I’m not even sure it counts as “making the bed” if all you can technically do is pull the quilt up…? We used to have a white comforter with shams, but it got demoted to the guest bedroom for reasons involving red clay that appeared in our washer, etc. So we don’t…or can’t…make the bed. Mom, I am so sorry.
Debate the gray instead of engaging real issues
In this culture of outrage, it seems that everyone is always angry about…everything. I am not a naturally critical person, and I remember feeling steamrolled sometimes in my Political Science classes when many of my classmates seemed to be so fiercely opinionated. From where I sit, it seems that the people who make real change are rarely those who have enraged, inflammatory things to say. The people who seem to have the most impact on the world for good – the people I’d consider personal heroes – are humble, compassionate servants. Bold and gentle, because you can be both. They are hesitant to say things that draw attention to themselves, but work tirelessly to defend the cause they care so deeply about. They don’t waste their time debating gray areas on the internet – they put some skin in the game and go to work. My heart is to be more like that.
Ignore complicated realities
I believe in truth. The absolute kind. And while I think there is black and white in this world, the way we engage situations is rarely black and white. To ignore the more complicated reality behind what’s “black and white” is to dehumanize the problem. For example, I tutor kids that, statistically speaking, are likely to live their entire lives below the poverty line. One boy in our group can’t read, write, or speak in English – yet he has advanced to the fifth grade. These are good kids. They have changed the way I view education, immigration, and have reminded me that everyone has a story. Neither they nor their families deserve the blanket statements and stereotypes that are spoken over them. They humanize the problem, and it’s a paradigm shift for me.
Hate the government
Did you know that an estimated 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law? Did you know that someone who sexually assaults a child in Bolivia is more likely to die slipping in the shower or bathtub than to be sentenced to jail for their crime? Yes, our government and justice systems are flawed. But I thank God that our country does not experience the kind of systematic violence, corruption, and gross injustice that is a reality for half of humanity. I do realize I’m writing this as a middle class white girl, and do not mean to understate the issues our country has.
I have friends who are expert knitters. My friend Nannette could probably knit something nice enough for me to live in – I mean as a shelter, not as a piece of clothing. I’m saying she might be able to knit a house. I went on a retreat last Christmas with my family and knitted my little heart out trying to create a “cowl” or “chunky scarf” (I think this is the easiest thing you can knit?) as a therapeutic activity. It was an utter failure. I am not sure I am delicate enough to knit, or patient enough, and since I have the attention span of Donnie from the Wild Thornberries, it is pretty hard to keep count of the stitches. So I don’t/won’t knit.