True Joy of Life by George Bernard Shaw
This is the true joy of life.
The being used for a purpose
Recognized by yourself as a mighty one.
The being a force of nature
Instead of a feverish, selfish
Little clod of ailments and grievances
Complaining that the world will not
Devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life
Belongs to the whole community
And as long as I live,
It is my privilege to do for it
Whatever I can.
I want to be thoroughly
Used up when I die,
For the harder I work the more I live.
I rejoice in life for its own sake.
Life is no brief candle to me.
It is a sort of splendid torch
Which I’ve got hold of
For the moment
And I want to make it burn
As brightly as possible before
Handling it on to future generations.
Recently, a couple of people told me they were making a bucket list. I know what a bucket list is, but never thought about actually sitting down and writing one. However, when I came across this poem by Shaw, I changed my mind. I want my life to matter not only to others, but I want life to be fulfilling to me also. I believe being in this body, on this planet, puts me the position of being able to have an amazing adventure. Making a bucket list gives me the opportunity to help in the planning of my adventure.
I did a little digging to see where the term bucket list came from. It seems the popular belief is that it relates to people committing suicide by hanging. They usually stand on something (perhaps, a bucket) and when they get the noose firmly around their neck, they kick the bucket away and they die. Or, in the olden days, when people were hung for a crime, they stood on a wooden bucket, which was kicked out from under them. However, further reading points to the origin of the term stemming from the wooden frame, called a bucket, which was used to hang animals by their feet for slaughter. Not unnaturally, the animals were likely to struggle or spasm after death, hence kick the bucket. (www.phrases.org./uk/meanings/218800.html
I saw the movie, The Bucket List, and it seems since that movie, many people have taken up the habit of creating their own list. The internet is full of ideas for bucket lists, and there are even blogs devoted to making your list. Since there are many things I’d like to do while I’m on this planet, I thought I’d create my bucket list. To my surprise, my list was so long I’d have to be here at least another one hundred years to accomplish it all. Trying to narrow my list down to ten was almost impossible. So, I decided to complete my list by including only those desires that have a high probability of being done. Of course, I realize that idea is limiting so I made two lists. One is high probability, the other is possibility.
Here’s my high probability list:
1. Finish writing my personal growth day book, and have it published
2. Take classes in composting and growing shiitake mushrooms
3. Learn to speak French
4. Travel by motorcycle through all of Scotland and the parts of Ireland we missed in 2008
5. Spend two weeks in Paris
6. Make a difference on the planet and in people’s lives
7. Be mindful enough to quit filling in gaps with something, or anything, which means being present to the gaps in life and letting them be.
8. Have a cabin in the woods, among the trees, with space for a large organic garden
9. Meet and spend time with Maya Angelou, Pema Chodron, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker
10. Travel Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Banff, Canada on our motorcycle
I realize as I look over my list, that some of these wishes will take intervention by divine energy to have them happen. I’m open to that and now that I’ve actually written my list and shared it with the world, it will be fun to see if and how it all gets done.
My Possibility List, which is very important to me also, is:
1. Go to Machu Pichu and walk among the ruins.
2. White water raft the Colorado River
3. See the Northern Lights
4. Visit the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Sphinx
5. Spend time in the Galapagos Islands
6. Stay in a villa in Tuscany for a month
7. Ride in a hot air balloon
8. Be financially independent
9. Finish my Psychology degree and get my Masters
10. Facilitate women’s groups nationwide
Well, there you have it. I’d like to accomplish everything on both of my lists, but I realize that what’s most important is that I get great joy and satisfaction out of living, and that I transfer that joy to others. I want to be mindful of making each moment count and when I’m ready to transition out of here, I’d like to know I gave it my best, and that I sowed the seeds of love, compassion, kindness, tenderness, joy, acceptance, and peace on the planet.
This is written on a 3×5 index card and taped to my desk where I can read it daily:
My message to myself and the world:
Love yourself, be at peace, slow down and find a place of rest and quietness;
be fully who you are
you can serve the planet and its inhabitants.