Monday, July 16, 2012

Bucket List: What Do You Really Want?

This Sunday at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, the lay leadership of Worship Associates and some church members presented a worship service called "Your Bucket List, Your Life, Your Legacy." Bucket Lists have become increasingly popular. They are lists of things you want to do before you die, or "kick the bucket" (which interestingly is a term that may have come from suicide where you kick the bucket out from under yourself in order to hang yourself.)

Anyway, the service looked at the purpose of bucket lists but also how they change over time and what legacy we leave based on what we did or did not accomplish from our list. The speakers ranged in age from 16 to 70's and they all had great reflections on goals, expectations, and legacy.

As I sat there listening to each person, I was in particular struck by the youth (who happens to be one of our babysitters) and how she said adults often tell her when she speaks of her list, "your are young, things will change" and how that kind of negates what she is saying. I can identify with the same thing happening to me when I was her age. Then there was a woman in her 30's who has a theater background like me and we had a lot of similarities. She spoke of how she needed to follow her heart and not get caught up in expectations others may put on her. The best way for her to leave a legacy is to bring her gifts into the world even if those gifts are different than the average person or family. I identified with what she was saying as well. These were two very powerful messages of the need to follow your own heart rather than let other people define who you are.

UU Lego Minister with bucket and chalice :-) Photo by Jeff Norris.

For me, I actually have accomplished the bucket list I had for myself ever since I was little that everyone told me was unrealistic, too much like a fairy tale, and not successful enough. It wasn't a long list, just a short one about marriage, family, and career.

I married a smart, kind, successful man who is a great husband and father who respects me and really is my prince. While I thought I would have six kids when I was little, I now have one, but mainly I wanted a loving family, and I have that with my wonderful son who is so smart and compassionate I just can't believe it sometimes. I also wanted to be successful in the arts. First I wanted to be a Disney animator and then changed that dream into being a star on Broadway. What I really wanted out of those jobs was to bring people a message that could help them in their lives and present it in a creative way that reached all the senses through music, art, and word. Now as a minister, that is what I do.

Looking back, I know I accomplished that list because I was fiercely protective of it even though other people thought it was wrong. Even when other people told me I made decisions too quickly, too young, or didn't focus on jobs that would make me more money or bring me more prestige. The times when I am most miserable in life and make the most mistakes are when I try to fit into what other people want from me.

Now when I think of what I would put on a Bucket List today, I can think of lots of things:
  • Be a great Mom. 
  • Be a great wife. 
  • Write a book.
  • Be a minister who helps people find their own path.
  • Spread the good news of Unitarian Universalism that everyone is loved just as they are. 
  • Raise awareness all over the world about the stigma against mental illness and dementia. 
  • Go to Italy. 
But really, what I absolutely want, I can never have, and that makes me sad. If I could have anything I ever wanted before I die, I would want to not be sick anymore. I appreciate all I have learned from my illness and know it makes me who I am today, but after all these years, I would want it gone. Or maybe I just wanted it managed enough so that I can live a next to normal life.


Rev. Katie

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