25/04/2024

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Re-Energizing the Bucket List – The Taucker Travel Blog

5 min read
Re-Energizing the Bucket List – The Taucker Travel Blog

Travel + Leisure said that if 2022 was the year of people wading back into travel, then 2023 was the year of diving in head first. It cited market research from American Express Travel, showing that travelers wanted to take more trips and spend more money on travel than they had in a while.

That would fit my experience. Like most others, my travel frequency was slowed down by Covid, and at some point I realized I was falling behind in my world travel plans. I didn’t even know I had a world travel plan, or a bucket list. But I became aware that I do subconsciously maintain one when I saw that I was falling behind.

Re-Energizing the Bucket List

Since 2007, screenwriter Justin Zackham coined the term, based on a list he had made for “things to do before I kick the bucket.” But though the verbiage is new, it seems like everyone must have a bucket list, consciously or not. It’s a real thing that pre-dated the term itself. And it must be nearly universal for travelers.

Before the slowdown, when I was traveling frequently, I was always focused on my next adventure. That’s all I had the bandwidth for. I liked the feeling of getting totally immersed in the trip at hand, and not thinking much beyond that. Since I was traveling regularly and often, I was always just looking at the top item on my list of travel aspirations. Beyond that, I had many passing thoughts of other places I wanted to visit. But I never formalized a list beyond the first few priorities. Whenever I have achieved the travel aspiration at the top of the list, another one would replace it.

At first, I resisted formulating a bucket list for myself. I didn’t like distilling the great richness of travel into numerical terms. I have seen people who pass over a border then scratch that country off their list, as in “Been there done that,” before racing on to the next one. It almost seemed as if the list was more important than the travel experience itself, as if the only purpose of the trip was to check off items in a scavenger hunt.

But that’s not a problem with keeping a list. That’s just about one’s attitude toward travel. At this point, I am getting serious about making and keeping a bucket list. It’s still essentially infinite, but I’m trying to be more deliberate, put those priorities in order, and get moving.

I think of my list as one of travel experiences, not places. I may scratch an experience off my list when I have done it: bungee jumping off Victoria Falls Bridge, for example. Once is enough. Swimming in Antarctica. Got that one. Cold. But I don’t scratch places off my list just because I have been there. Most places that are worth visiting, are worth revisiting. I love to return to places, some in particular.

There are many places where an eternity would not be enough to exhaust the experience of being there. New York City, London, Rome, Paris – that’s the definition of infinity. There’s no way to begin to experience all they have to offer no matter how many times you go or how long you stay. And that’s just a random, spontaneous list. It could go on forever.

Before the term Bucket List was created, most people probably had thoughts of some “places I want to see before I die.” The Bucket List formalizes those items, and invites you to consider your relative priorities. Implicitly it reminds you that you have to make choices, because you don’t have forever. Maybe it provides some impetus to take action to achieve some of your wishes, rather than assuming it will all fall into place by itself.

In the past my travel aspirations were more or less infinite. After the first two or three top priorities, the list would trail off into the vague mists of the imagination, the infinite pool of travel possibilities. Ultimately, I want to go everywhere and see everything. It’s a childhood dream that fades with age. The list is infinite, but time is not. That’s where the idea of formulating a list starts to make sense. In one sense, a Bucket List is the act of getting very serious and realistic about your lifetime travel plans.

My list is always changing. When some new interest or passion captures my imagination, it might sweep a new travel experience onto the top of the list. It might be a musical style, a kind of cuisine, a gorgeous landscape, a dance company, an artist, a movie or a book, anything that would seize my imagination and instill a drive to go see the place that produced such a marvelous thing.

The most recent upheaval in my list came from becoming absorbed in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. In that magical way that a book suddenly comes into your field of awareness, that book serendipitously came to my attention when I read that Bob Dylan talked about it at great length in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech. That sparked my interest. Then I came upon a beautiful leatherbound edition as I was moving. I took it as a sign, and that pushed me into action. I picked up the book plunged into it, and became completely enchanted. I became the silent partner of the great adventurer as he roamed around “the watery parts of the world.”

I had read it when I was younger, but somehow didn’t retain much. I think I didn’t have enough life experience then to appreciate it. But this time I really became immersed in Moby Dick, out of the blue as it were.

A friend asked me who I thought was the hero. Was it the mysterious narrator who asks us to “call me Ishmael”? Was it the bitter, revenge-obsessed old Captain Ahab? For me, it was the whale himself, Moby Dick. I grew increasingly fond of the whales in the story.

As I read it, the desire to go on a whale-watching trip welled up inside of me, and that desire continues to mount as an increasingly fervent desire. So now a whale watching trip has pushed itself to the top of my Bucket List and dislodged the Mississippi River cruise that previously held first place. Now pushed to third place is the Danube River cruise, which may well supersede the Mississippi trip, we’ll see. It’s a matter of fate, and whatever events take place between now and my next trip.

So now I am in catch-up mode. I want to regain my momentum and make up for any time lost. And I am serious about my Bucket List. Recently, I went to South Africa, and went on safari. That’s a great way to cut through the clutter and make a direct connection to the life source. It felt like being reborn. Next year I intend to check a few more items off the list.

Your humble reporter,

Colin Treadwell

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