The problem with bucket lists.

Bucket lists. Life lists. Wish lists. To-do lists. No matter what you call it, we all have a list of things we want to accomplish in life. Some people are more direct and say “things i will do before i die” and others are more general, “things i aspire to do.”

I have a list. It doesn’t have a name. It’s just a running list of places i want to visit and things i want to do. Every year it changes based on finances and my threshold for adventure. What’s on my list right now?

  • Swim with sharks.
  • Climb Kilimanjaro.
  • Visit the lost city of Petra.
  • Go to Argentina. (there is a sub-list of 5-10 things here)

Last year’s list was hike the Inca Trial (mission=accomplished). Somewhere in the top 25 items on my list has always been to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I have no idea how this one popped up on my list. But, it’s there. And with it is also a romantic vision of my walk. It includes no other tourists or pedestrians, sunny, warm weather, beautiful views capped off with solitude and maybe even some time for personal reflection. Oh, and since i’ve done all this walking, it also includes pizza in Brooklyn. (Yum!!) I pictured something a bit like this (picture courtesy of

And this is where i have a problem with life lists. Because i have wanted to take this walk for such a long time, my mind has created this alternate reality of what it will be like. I am old enough to know this alternate reality can’t happen but i still cling to it.

So when a friend gamely agreed to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on sunny day i was thrilled. Pizza, sunny, warm weather, photos. Not necessarily solitude but time with my best friend. All of this would be great! A dream realized! In case you hadn’t already guessed, it was NOTHING like this romanticized vision I created. It’s overly dramatic to call it a nightmare. The bridge was just completely packed. People were everyone. Cyclists were literally yelling at the walkers. They were also doing construction. Instead of seeing the views, we saw lots of aluminum scaffolding. Not even 1/4 of the way across, my friend was tired and cranky. We were so not getting any further.

In case you are curious, this was “my Brooklyn Bridge” experience:

Brooklyn Bridge. 2012.

Here’s to having an original idea in New York City. Snarky comments aside, my issue with lists is that we spend so much time hyping up a dream or wish list that we completely forget to stop and enjoy the moment. That’s the point of having an adventure. You have to stop worrying about what went wrong, what’s not exactly the way you planned so you can just relish the present.  This trip was a reminder of that. I was too busy being annoyed about all that went wrong to enjoy the time i had with my friend. Total bummer.

Author: Judi Kennedy

Wanderlust. A professional aunt, fitness enthusiast, dog owner and avid reader the rest of the time.

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