In 2013 I wrote about the twenties crisis and now I am married, I might reflect a little on that period in my life, which it seems to me, every young person experiences in some measure.
Back then I discovered I was not the only one with a bucket list. At the ripe age of 21 and having peers only a few years my senior I never thought that death would be the hot topic of conversation. Neither did I think that 30 would ever look so glum to some.
The Quarter Life Crisis
In my innocence as I perceived my friends going through this rather interesting stage of life I have labelled this the 'Quarter Life Crisis'. A phenomenon characterised by the sudden attention given to an extensive list of milestones to accomplish before the 'ghastly' age of 30.
Why exactly it is ghastly, I'm still not sure. Does life suddenly end overnight when we role into this new age bracket? Well, from what I am hearing it sounds like it does.
So we pull out our bucket lists that we had written for fun in our teen years from the deep and disorganised archives of our laptops, we add the few 'more serious things' that we now want to do with a few extra years of maturity under our belts and begin living in a desperate attempt to tick each of these 101 things off in our 'final years of life'.
So we venture to: buy a gerbil; stand in two places at once; learn to make chocolate; learn to dance salsa; travel to the far reaches of the globe; go to the observation deck of the Empire State Building; kiss someone under the Eiffel Tower in France; own a car of equal or greater worth to our university degrees; go sky diving; buy a house (ummm…I mean welcome to the world of mortgages); get married; have a baby…you get the gist.
Now all these things are good and well…actually I would like to do every one of these things. But is this what we live for? It's an interesting question. An article that a friend showed me earlier this week totally nails this on the head. The article is written by an individual who works in palliative care and explores the top regrets that she hears from her patients as they reflect on their lives.
Interestingly enough their regrets have nothing to do with a trip to the Rocky Mountains, scuba diving or learning to speak a second language. Rather their regrets were the following:
1. Wishing they had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not living a life expected by others.
2. Wishing they didn't work so hard.
3. Wishing they had the courage to express their feelings.
4. Wishing they had stayed in touch with their friends.
5. Wishing they had let themselves be happier.
These are real regrets of real people who are looking death in the eye. Now, if anyone is qualified to give advice on how to live life with no regrets these are the people to listen to. So umm….what are we doing?
What the hang?
Why do we spend our time living to compose our own fantasy 'dream lands' through our bucket lists? I think it's a point of pride. Yep. Pride.
Whilst I am yet to find myself in the middle of this whole 'Quarter Life Crisis' thing I still at times find myself falling into this category. Pride drives my random acts of spontaneity at times and fuels my dreams of travelling to the far reaches of the globe so that I can tell people about what I did and they will consider my life interesting enough to write down – who knows, even make a book.
But maybe too, it is our inability to be happy in the simple things that fuels the creation and 'accomplishment' of our bucket lists?
In the Western World, we live in an extremely individualistic society that is caught up in 'achieving' things in order to lift ourselves up. We are trained through the education system, marketing influence, magazines and music we are surrounded by growing up to do things that stand out to be a social bench mark. If we don't 'stand out' in the things we accomplish, I guess in the eyes of the world that makes us failures.
So one day we wake up and realise that the last number of years have been spent working, hanging with friends and even raising a family or being heavily involved in community service, or both…and for some reason we freak out because we haven't done anything with our lives that 'stands out' and we soon find ourselves buying a new car or a ticket to the other side of the world.
Interestingly enough, it appears that Jesus knew this bucket list conversation (and very similar conversations) was coming and decided to engage in it. He called us to be humble. In fact he called us to be the most humble people on the planet; living to sacrifice our own personal agendas and lift other people above ourselves. Talk about counter-cultural.
He showed us that this was possible and was the perfect model of this. Mark chapter 10 verse 45 "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." An example for us to model our lives by.
So maybe life isn't just about ticking off 101 random things? After reading the article on the regrets of those facing death I have been challenged to reassess why I do what I do and review my bucket list in light of the example of Jesus.
I hope that amidst my ramblings and musings you are challenged just as much as I am to live not focused on the superficial things that 'we want to do' but in complete surrender to Jesus Christ and in awe of who he is, and to let our response to the people around us mirror his and our lives to be filled with just as much passion, mercy, compassion, enthusiasm, grace and love as his. Let's focus on this more than we focus on buying a Gerbil.
Well, on that note, I think I better write a new bucket list. A few closing verses to ponder on: John chapter 10 verse 10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full," and Jeremiah chapter 9 verse 24, "…but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord."
Charley Goiris' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/charley-goiris.html