The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong. So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart. – Psalm 90:10 & 12 (NRSV)
A while back I watched an interview with people about their bucket lists. Who knew that so many people wanted to swim with dolphins before they die? Proposing to your girlfriend at the Taj Mahal was big, too. Which didn’t go well for one dreamer who, after a miserable journey with multiple missed connections, finally arrived in Agra with a splitting headache, temps in the 100s, swarms of wasps, and a girlfriend who kept needing to pee. Magic.
Most people who make bucket lists don’t think about the potential for disappointment lurking in every human experience. They’re just wanting to die with no regrets. Which won’t go well for most of them, either. “Before I die” is such an unpredictable period. And death is such a rude interrupter. There’ll always be something left that you wanted to do and never did.
My father loved exploring the world, but one day he decided never to travel again. And that was that. He was 80 and still vigorous, so it felt to me like giving up. There were still trips he’d hoped to make. But he was content. He knew that no matter how many experiences you acquire in your life, you’ll still have missed out on almost everything life has to offer. Once you grasp that, the fact that there are so many things you still haven’t done feels less like a problem to be tackled with lists, and more like a blessing to be welcomed with thanks.
Grant me the grace of limits, the joy of finitude, the wisdom of enough, the contentment of here, the beauty of now.