Remember when you were a child? The world was at your feet. You wanted to be a truck driver, a space explorer, a rocket scientists or may be a chimpanzee. You thought you could do everything you wanted and be anyone you wanted. It was not a question of ambition, but belief. Simple innocent faith and belief. As you grew older, such innocence corroded away at the face harshness the world inflicted on you. Rules, regulations, materialism, happiness, disappointment and above all mediocrity. People pinned their expectations on you. You pinned expectations on yourself. You marked a level of success which you had to achieve to be considered worthy in the eyes of the world, your own family and friends and even yourself. Perhaps you worked hard to achieve those things. Today you might have all the things you ever dreamed of. But are you really happy? Content you may be, but you sacrificed real happiness at the altar of success, where you had to leave behind your childish dreams and hopes in order to be taken seriously in the adult world. Then perhaps it is time to revisit those ideas which ruled your days once. You should consider doing all those things which appealed once tremendously, but now you just dismiss as crazy. Whether you are a young college kid with your future before you or an aging office executive with salt and paper hair, don’t leave bucket lists for later. Do them now. It’s not the things itself, but the act of doing them that can be immensely liberating. You will on the threshold of a new and reinforced life. Try these things before it is too late.
10. Learn To Play A Musical Instrument
In case you already know how to play one, then learn a new one. When we are young and everything is new and fresh, we are excited to learn new things and improve our skills. But the more we grow, learning becomes an outcome dependent activity. We calculate how much benefit we can derive from learning something new, be it financial or material. People take college classes in middle age in hopes of an increment in salary, but rarely do something new just for the sake of it. Most consider it a waste of time and effort. Learning to play a new musical instrument takes immense skill and effort. It will harmonize and synthesize your cognitive and technical skills into creating beautiful music. The music you create will soothe the soul, filling you with happy energy. You will be dedicating hours of your life into soulful creativity and the experience and talent you will gain will be worth cherishing forever.
9. Volunteer For A Social Organization
Have you ever donated money to a charity? Has it made you feel good about yourself, thinking that the precious few bucks you donated will make someone else’s life better? If donating money is your idea of doing charity, then you live a very one dimensional life, with your house and job and television and car. Step out of your comfort zone. It will jerk the reality of the world you live in. Volunteer a couple of hours on weekends at an orphanage, old age home, HIV/AIDS Centre, disaster and rescue zones. You might think that you are helping the unfortunate. However, it is you who is being helped the most. The things you will see and learn, the way some human suffer and live will shake your perspective and enrich your life beyond imagination. If you want to live life to the fullest, then this is the way to do it.
8. Upload A Video On Youtube
Thanks to the wonderful times we live in, we have ways of expressing ourselves more than our parents and grandparents ever did. In the 1960’s, eons before internet existed, pop artist Andy Warhol coined the term 15 minutes of fame. Today, the relentless celebrity pop culture tends to make us feel small for not living life on the large side. Life does not feel worth as much of your pictures are not splashed on tabloids and the public is not dissecting your fashion choice. Fame is not on everyone’s wish list, but it sure does feel good. Don’t try fame for fame’s sake, but everybody deserves their fifteen minutes of fame on the world stage and so do you. Record a video on something you are passionate about. Either shoot a video film or sit in front of the camera yourself and talk. Talk about a particular film, book or music album or simply make fun of an aspect of society you think is ridiculous. Play the new musical instrument you learned in front of the world. Do something worthwhile and let strangers into your life. Their comments on it might be the start of something entirely new.
7. Learn A New Language
This is quite similar to learning a new musical instrument. However, while the former was for a purely personal sense of achievement, this one’s benefit will reap you lots of professional and social rewards. You might take up a language that is relevant in your area of work. For example, if you work in marketing then learning Chinese would be a good investment, given China’s recent economic boom. If your work is in the technology sector, then Japanese might be a good idea. Or learn the language of a country you always wanted to explore, be it Italian, French or Swahili. Khaled Hosseini has written that if culture is a house, then language is the key which opens its doors. Learn the language of a country which fascinates you. Your journey and exploration will be that much meaningful.
6. Live, Study or Work Abroad For A Year
An Indian lady I knew wanted to learn French. She quit her job, packed her bags and went to France. She stayed with an old farming couple in rural France, worked on their farm and explored the countryside on foot whenever she could. At the end of the year she returned to India, as fluent in French as any native Parisian. I should mention that before leaving, she knew not a word of the language. She explained that having no other means of communication, the only way to get things done was to speak the native tongue and thus her fluency. Femina magazine recounted her experiences in the travelogue section of their magazine. Her experience had been truly incredible. She had had the most amazing year, done the most mind blowing things and came back home a year later to pick up the threads of her life where she had left it off in India. Her example is an inspiration to me, one that completely intend to do, albeit in a different country, once things in my life settle down a bit. If stability is not your problem, then seek out this adventure now.
5. Tell Your Story
You were here, you lived laughed and one day will die. Your close ones will mourn your loss. But the inevitable dust onto dust and ashes and onto ashes will occur and the universe will move on without you. That is a terrifying thought. Capture your unique existence on paper before the inevitable. Death is not scary, it is merely another journey. But those you will leave behind, those who will be a part of your legacy and future will carry on your name. Their lives you have touched, and their existence has been rooted in yours. Your life’s story is of infinite value to these people, whose existence is intertwined with yours. Anecdotes from my great grandmother’s childhood are passed onto me and my siblings. Hearing her stories makes me realize what an amazing woman she was and how I would have loved to meet her. Despite being the first woman in Calcutta to have secured a college education for herself, there is little to document her tremendous bravery and achievement except for the family stories that her successors get to hear hundreds of years later. Though my other worldly aspirations to know her intimately will never come true, I take pride in the fact that I am of her and my own ambitions are choices are reaffirmed because I am hers. Your life and accomplishments are of immense value to those who love you. Write your memoirs, trace your roots and define your wings. Who knows, you might become a bestselling autobiography. Your successive generations will have something concrete and valuable with which to remember and cherish you.
4. Deep Sea Dive
Right where you live, but beneath you, exists a world so magical that it will take your breath away. The most unbelievable creatures populate this horizon and beckon you to partake of this exquisite experience. In the path breaking Bollywood film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, one of the lead protagonists has a similar epiphany when he dons the scuba diving mask and plunges off the cliff of his terrestrial existence. The jewel toned colours of aquatic life enthrall and charm him, shake out every corner of sorrow from his soul and return him to land refreshed and rejuvenated. Whether adventure sports are your thing or not, this is one life experience you do not want to miss out on.
3. Run A Marathon
Do it simply because you can. If you cannot, then start training for it right now. By the time the next Marathon rolls around, you will be a pro and raring to take on the challenge. Training to take part in a Marathon will heighten your fitness, which is always a good thing. You will look good and feel amazing. You will feel young. These days, a number of Marathons are organized by corporate or charity organizations that donate money to causes, Run for whatever cause you believe in, but believe you me, the final achievement and victory will be yours and yours alone.
2. Live Like A Millionaire For A Week
By this I don’t mean you go about buying islands, helicopters and your very own harem. Juat get the star treatment. You have been earning a living for a while now. Penny saved is penny earned, I know. But what is the point of pennies in the bank when living is constricted. Don’t blow out your pension fund, but have an extravagant week where money is not an issue and you are pampered royal. Check into a five star luxury suite, get hot stone massages twice a day, travel about town in limousines, dine in the most exotic restaurants and slip the maitre d’ an extra tip to seat you next to a celebrity. Splurge on designer outfits and look extra glamorous. Your pocket will be slightly lighter at the end of the week, but your pampered derriere will be delighted.
1. Face Your Deadliest Fear
This bucket list is not all about fun and games. If you live your life hiding from things, that fear will only grow with time and manifest itself in other aspects of your life. I am not asking you to go all Fear Factor. But recognize and accept the fact that you are afraid. Question yourself why you are afraid of it. Most people are afraid of snakes. I am no exception. But constantly conditioning myself to not be afraid, I am able to go to zoos and look the reptiles in the eye. Watching rattlesnakes rattling away on animal planet does not make me faint, unlike some friends I know. I have no idea what I will do if faced with a real life Anaconda or Snakes On A Plane like situation. But I have to believe that given how strong I am trying to be, I will not completely collapse. Challenge yourself the same thing. If you are afraid of heights, elevators, flying, water, etc, do the things that scare you the most. As the slogan of a popular soda commercial goes, beyond fear lies victory.