The one talking was President Obama after he indulged in a little cultural trip to Stonehenge at the closing of the NATO summit in Newport, Wales and before leaving U.K. Of course a busy man like President Obama has a bucket list; even ordinary people try to give their existence some degree of importance by honoring it with a bucket list.
The event captured the attention of Rebecca Mead and made her reflect on it. Read it in her article, “Kicking the Bucket List” published in The New Yorker-Cultural/Comment Section. What is a bucket list?
You read and heard about the “bucket list.” Even without consulting a dictionary, you know that it is a list of things one has to do before “kicking the bucket” or dying. The words now come to be often used in travel where it came to mean a list of must-see places and destinations.
… Exactly who coined the phrase is obscure, but the term entered the popular consciousness decisively in 2007, with the release of the movie “The Bucket List.” Starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as geriatric terminal-cancer patients who undertake an implausible valedictory tour of excess—skydiving, visiting the Taj Mahal, and getting to the foothills of Everest… The idea rapidly spread to a younger generation: in 2010, MTV’s “The Buried Life” featured three fresh-faced Canadian guys travelling across America and checking items off their list…
The expression derives from “kicking the bucket,” a euphemism for dying of obscure origin but blunt and vivid suggestiveness. .. Compiling a bucket list is both an exercise in wishful self-improvement—learning to speak French, training to run a marathon—and an expression of to-hell-with-it cupidity. It can express the longing to shed inhibition, as if living life to its fullest meant dispensing with socially constraining rules…
… Patricia Schultz’s “1000 Places to See Before You Die”—Cliveden, the Grand Canyon—has spawned an entire catalogue of spinoffs for its publisher, Workman, including the forthcoming “1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die,” by Mimi Sheraton… Goodreads offers a “Books to Read Before You Die” …
In the article by Anna Altman entitled “What Is the Right Way to Travel?” published in The New York Times – The Opinion Pages (Op-Talk), the issue about “bucket list” resurfaced.
Rebecca Mead asks, “Whence the appeal of the bucket list?” She obviously has no appreciation for bucket lists that she sees as something that merely honors the novelty of an experience. In essence the article talks asks that the practice be stopped as it devalues life experiences to become mere achievements that people tick off the list.”
The Guardian’s Jessica Reed agrees with Ms. Mead’s thinking. She said, “Thinking about my own most transformative moments, I can’t identify one which I had specifically sought to make me feel more alive.” “Meaningful experiences come at unexpected times,” she argues, “in the mundane moments with people you care about.” To this effect, Jessica Reed assembled the so –called “anti-bucket list” that contains highly-acclaimed travel destinations – the Vatican, Las Vegas, Paris, a cruise.
Ted Scheinman, a faculty and graduate student from the University of North Carolina views travel as a way to attain education and to foster self-improvement just like how it was in the 17th – 19th centuries. People who say “I’ve ‘done’ London (the Louvre or Stonehenge)” or “Reykjavik might be a potential weekend destination” are tourists. He said, “I’ve never ‘done’ Reykjavik, and this simple verb is something contemporary travellers must be wary of. Real travel entails a more-than-superficial engagement with a foreign culture.”
For Nicholas Kulish, a New York Times correspondent … a slower pace and a smaller budget wove these trips more closely into the routines of a regular life. “I found that traveling for a book was distinctly different” from working as a correspondent, he writes. “Gone was the business hotel squatting as close to the foreign ministry as zoning would allow; with the expense account went the porcelain plates, replaced by crumpled paper bags; the taxis elongated into buses; and time stretched out as well, allowing for habit and repetition, the hallmarks of living versus passing through.”
What is then the right way to travel? To those who travel or live with a “bucket list,” they are challenged by these articles to compile touchstones that can be sought with meaning and understanding before one draws closer to one’s end. But let not this opinion dictates how you will travel or live your life. Go for what will make you happy.