Photo credit: Frank Mckenna on Unsplash
A “bucket list” is a funny term isn’t it?
Bucket list has come to mean “a list of things to do before you die”.
Even if you haven’t heard the term before, you probably are familiar with the concept behind it.
In fact, you may have a bucket list of sorts already without realizing it.
How It Originated
According to a 2015 piece in The Washington Post titled, The Origins of ‘Bucket List’” by Ben Zimmer, the term “bucket list” as a list of things to do before you die, is credited to screenwriter, Justin Zackham.
You’ve probably seen his movie, The Bucket List.
It was released in 2007 and starred Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson.
I have to admit, I was shocked that the term and the concept of a bucket list is so young.
I thought the term was at least as old as me. But apparently not.
At least not in the context of a list of things to do before you die.
The Evolution of the Term Bucket List
The reason I probably thought the phrase bucket list was older is due to a similar phrase “kick the bucket”.
That phrase is older and refers to someone who is dying or about to die.
For example, you might say “I knew he was sick but didn’t expect him to kick the bucket so soon.”
It has come to mean someone died or is about to die as in “The old geezer kicked the bucket last week”.
When you hear the phrase in this context, the evolution of a bucket list as a list of things to do before you die, makes a bit more sense.
But there’s another theory to the evolution of this phrase. And it’s rather morbid.
The theory goes that many years ago, people hung themselves by creating a noose tied to a beam or tree limb above them.
They would balance standing on a bucket or similar object and put the noose around their neck.
When ready, they would kick the bucket from beneath their feet.
This resulted in a tightening of the noose and resulted in death by hanging.
In reference to your last act before death, suicide was referred to as “kicking the bucket”.
Over time as with many phrases, the term kicked the bucket became used to signify death.
It was even used to refer to non-hanging deaths or ones that didn’t involve standing on a bucket first.
But the true origin of the term “kick the bucket” goes even further back.
For anyone familiar with the process of butchering and hanging livestock, especially pigs, you might have heard “kicking the bucket”.
This was used to describe the flailing and kicking that occurs when a pig is hung upside down and its throat is cut.
This is because the old phrase for the beam a pig was hung from during butchering originated from the French words trebuchet or buque, which meant balance.
My Bucket List
Regardless of how the term originated and evolved, I believe the phrase and concept of a “bucket list” is here to stay.
And thus, since I’ve now reached half a century, below is my bucket list.
- Double my current income, I accomplished this from 2019 to 2020 so let’s see if I can double it again!
- Learn to play guitar and piano. It’s a skill I’ve always admired. None of my children or grandchildren seem interested, perhaps I’ll take it up so I can play for holidays and other gatherings.
- A trip to Ireland and Scotland. I feel called to this area. Though I’m not sure why. For as long as I can remember this has been on my list of travel destinations.
- Backpacking or otherwise traveling through Europe is something I’ve always thought would be fun. I keep hearing how it can be done inexpensively. And I’d love to see in person some of the landmarks I’ve read about.
- I also think it would be fun to take a road trip to meet up with some of the folks I’ve become friends online with over the last decade or so.
- Take a vacation trip out West, specifically to the grand canyon, Yellowstone, and surrounding sights. I hope to do this trip soon (summer 2021) with my youngest daughters who are still at home.
- Plan a road trip along the coast of the United States. I’d love to buy or rent an RV and just wind our way west without a solid plan of where to stop or what to see.
- To finally get off-grid. This is definitely on my bucket list. I long to live a life that feels less restrained and more free. The older I get, the more the restrictions of society and government bug me. I don’t want to line the pockets of greedy corporations or government entities. I just want to live simply. I want to wake up each morning and choose what I’m doing or where I’m going. I want to be able to earmark any money I do earn to spoil my grandkids.
Why I Recommend Making a Bucket List as Soon as Possible
If I were younger than 50, my bucket list would be quite a bit longer I think.
I’d skydive, learn to scuba dive, and maybe even learn to fly a plane.
In fact, I can think of tons of things I’d add to my list if I were younger and more physically able.
So, if you haven’t made a bucket list yet, consider making one. This is just the start of mine.
I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more things.
And who knows, after my youngest two daughters have flown the nest, maybe I’ll have the time and money to learn to fly myself!