By JENNY PRUITT CLEVELAND

How often do we stop and think about what we actually want to experience in this lifetime?  We’re usually too busy doing what needs to be done next to do that.

A few months ago, though, my fingers surprised me.  They typed three words across my unsuspecting screen.

I was learning a new graphics design software program and needed a subject to practice with.  Those three words – My Bucket List – appeared from thin air.

Well, not exactly. My Uncle Tim had just turned 65 and had died unexpectedly in his sleep a week later. So I suppose my subconscious had been kneading that doughy idea of mortality around in my head since then.

That’s when I started doing some calculations.  Similar to these: (sorry, some old fashioned math “word problems”)

  1. Let’s say your best friend and you are both 46 and you’re both guaranteed a life expectancy of 80 years. Let’s say you live in different states but try to see each other about twice a year. About how many more times will you be together (in this lifetime)? … 68 times.
  2. Now let’s say your mom is 71 and she’s guaranteed a life expectancy of 80 years. Your mom lives about 10 hours’ drive away and life’s so full that you actually lay eyes on each other only about every other month. How many more visits will you have together? … 54.
  3. Suppose you’re 26 and your dad is 52 (with a guaranteed life expectancy of 76). You don’t see him quite as often as you’d like. Some years it’s only at Thanksgiving. Some years it’s that, plus a summer trip or wedding. How many more visits? … Around 36 more.

In my opinion, no matter how many times I run the numbers, it’s just not enough. Not near enough. (If you want a calculation based on World Health Organization data, by the way, try this website: SEE YOUR FOLKS. Warning: It’s sobering.)

These calculations changed my perspective on bucket lists – and brought mine into existence as only three items:

  1. Love my peeps.
  2. Travel the world.
  3. Write about both. 

HOW IT BREAKS DOWN

For “Love My Peeps,” I made a list of WHO my peeps are (think about it … yes, THOSE peeps). Then I made a list of HOW I demonstrate I love them, which was simple:

  1. Spend time with them.
  2. Send them notes, emails, letters.
  3. Call them.
  4. Write stories I remember about them.
  5. Go on trips with them.

For “Travel the World,” I made a list of WHERE I want to go, WHAT I want to do there, and WHO I want to go with.

For “Write about Both,” well, that was already spelled out in the first two.

The traveling and writing parts – those are my passions. But we’ve all got peeps. Who are yours? And how are your passions tied to them?

 

Jenny Pruitt Cleveland is a Content Creator in Nashville, Tenn. She swims, bikes, and runs a lot. In former lives she’s been a middle school teacher, magazine reporter and editor, cycling tour guide, and underwater photographer.