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  • These Things Are On My Bucket List—Or Are They?

    In recent years the phrase “on my bucket list” has come into popular parlance. This isn’t surprising; it’s a phrase we often find useful!

    on my bucket list
    My bucket list… (PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets)

    What do we use this phrase to indicate? Well, if something is “on my bucket list”, it usually means that this is something that is so important to me, that I want to be absolutely certain that I do it before I die (or, “kick the bucket”). You now often hear people use this expression when they are describing travel destinations, e.g., “going to the Amalfi Coast is on my bucket list”.

    At least in the part of North America that I inhabit, it seems that we are all walking around with our bucket lists. We add items from time to time, perhaps substituting items for others. And marketers are more than keen to tell us what should be on our bucket list!

    Well, why do I have things “on my bucket list”? The short answer is because these particular experiences must be of the greatest value and importance to me. I simply must see, do, or experience them while I have life left to do it. Of the endless number of things that I could see, do, or experience during my life, these things top the list. I may fit all other kinds of experience into my remaining life, but, to use my example above—visiting the Amalfi Coast has got to get done!

    So, how do things get to be so important that they end up on your bucket list? Well, they must have great meaning and value. And where does that come from?

    The Things That Get On My Bucket List

    The things that get on my bucket list must be things that really grab me. When I think about having, experiencing or doing these things, it must seem to me that they would be peak experiences. Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow defines a peak experience as follows:

    The emotional reaction in the peak experience has a special flavour of wonder, of awe, of reverence, of humility and surrender before the experience as before something great”

    This is very akin to what C.G. Jung would call a numinous experience. These are experiences in life of tremendous, incomparable value. To be the experiences that are the most valuable of an entire lifetime, means that we put them at the head of our personal list. The following particularly apt story from the New Testament makes exactly the same point:

    …a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value… went and sold all that he had and bought it.

    Matthew 13: 45-46

    How Things Get on My Bucket List

    Things get on our bucket list through our memories and life experiences, our feelings and anticipations—and in so many other ways. What we have felt, known and been in our past profoundly influences our desires and our hope for future life. Our hopes and aspirations are deeply coloured by our prior life experiences. What we yearn for in the future is definitely a reflection of what we have been, and what we are now.

    Here’s something that’ important to be aware of: things may yet get on my bucket list in the future, as a result of parts of myself of which I’m currently unaware. It’s true! I know what I want consciously now. Yet, I also have unconscious needs, energies and aspects of myself that may step into the spotlight of consciousness. These things may change the shape of what I need, desire and aspire to. These yearnings might even be at the root of a current experience of depression or anxiety.

    In other words, don’t assume that your bucket list is finished and complete just yet! Your undiscovered self may have much to add to the list. What are the deep desires and yearnings that are unfolding in you?

    What are Your Pearls of Great Price?

    As long as we are alive, the process of discovering our deepest values and yearnings continues to unfold. So does the process of discovery of our deepest selves. Often the process of working with a discerning and supportive Jungian analyst can greatly assist in the process of moving toward what is finally most valuable and meaningful in our lives, and what it is that we most deeply desire.

    Wishing you every good thing for your personal journey,

    © 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario

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