Monday, November 7, 2011

Bucket List

“Kick the bucket when it is done with”.  This was Edward Coleman (Jack Nicholson) in the film, “Bucket List”. The nonchalance to life when death looms large and imminent! Courageous resignation was evident in the statement.

In comparison Mr Wilson, in Somerset Maugham’s short story, “The Lotus Eater” had the audacious and fearless plan to die at sixty, if nature doesn’t intervene at sixty-to take it away by his own hands. And according to him, what more can one get from life after twenty five years of blissful living and happiness in the island of Capri, with wine and food, books to read,watching the moon risings from the cliff overlooking the bay?  This decision he took at thirty five and gave enough room for his annuities to last till he was sixty.. But he was physically well at sixty and had lost the courage to smother his life. Twenty five years of leisure, and happiness drained the potency of will and courage from him. He was frightened to die. It was like atrophy of the limb which was disused for long.

I know not, now in my early fifties how far and deep the road and the woods are still. In the teens the thought of being erased from the world never occurred- because of the “audacity of youth”. Nor in the thirties- it was still a decade of confidence and feeling of perennial immortality. Even at forty the sun set seemed far away. But it has begun to dawn and one thinks often that a decade or a score of years from now is a mixed boon of grace. Yet, then is it not also true that age is in the mind?

A person once exclaimed how wonderful it would be if she could live till or beyond one hundred. It immediately reminded me of Marquez’s “One hundred years of solitude”. I would not want to see seven or ten generations of posterity. I asked her if she would be prepared to see and know what she would not fancy to see and know. If she sees it fine well she may wish. But the longer you live more are what you see and hear that you did not ever wanted.

If someone asks me to make a bucket list, I would say it’s already done .Contentment! That indeed is a tricky loose and relative term to play with. One can never be, one will ever be, critics may allege. Yes indeed they have a point there. What is contentment is relative to a person. And what makes contentment is the ability to feel content by fulfilling ones needs and not crave for never ending boons. Isn’t it?

I could reel out many of my fantasies to be dropped into the bucket.  Some being, a journey to the Galapagos, Machi picu, Tierra del fugo; a long walk up the Kilimananjaro; a week and more in the Masai Mara; a lonely trek and stay in the icy wilderness of the poles, in the arctic winter; a cruise through the Canadian arctic; a week and more in the wilderness of Alaska;  drifting in the ocean on a schooner on a full moon night;serenading through the snowy splendor and majesty of the Himalayas; a night in solitude by the Victoria falls and a week  in the grassy cold wilderness of Eravikulam; a quite night at home with glass of whisky and reading a favourite author. And if the end come in any of these places like the whiff of air never smelt, well what else can one hope for and ask for? Any other thing ephemeral that comes by is incidental lottery!

Do I need to scheme of millions in dollars? Do I need to harbor fantastic scheme of a mansion for myself? Do I need to own a fleet of BMWs or MayBachs? Do I need to thump to the world that I have achieved? Tethering my ambition to the stars has not been in my person. May be a drawback, a limitation or even a boon than bane! Opinions on this may differ from how one looks at it.

Where does one launder one’s disillusionment? That indeed is a question. But I guess learning to override that and let pitfalls be eclipsed is the sane way out. Though it takes a lot of agonising and immensely painful effort and mental rearrangement – guts, plain and only guts!

In the end the bucket list has to include only contentment. Contentment from not possessing material bonanzas, not from elevating ones ego to a higher plain or what is lovingly termed as achievements. But just simple contentment that there will be happy people around you. The ones you love and who love you- and the ones you brought forth.

But contentment is ephemeral and elusive isn’t it? So is the bucket, it has hollow somewhere beneath, which we do not notice. Isn’t it?


KParthasarathi said...

As John Milton said " -Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv'st Live well: how long or short permit to heaven."It is not for us to worry about death whatever be the age.Living well and contendedly as you have said is the way to go about. That way I liked the fantasies you have expressed in para 7 of the post.

Bikramjit said...

Hmmm I am pleased to hear that you are content , as there are some like me who always want more ..

but i have a long list to take care of


NRIGirl said...

Great post! Great comment here by KP! Enjoyed both.

Balachandran V said...

Like KP said, what matters is how you live. Die that we must, so all we can hope is that it would be an easy, quick exit.

Contentment! Yearning for contentment itself shows our discontentment!

Lovely Bucket List! I'd add a few more, though.

....Petty Witter said...

What a wonderful if slightly morbid post and oh so true. There is indeed a lot to be said about contentment, if only more of us were content with our lives and not always reaching for more I think the world would be a happier, safer place. Alas I think it is part of the human condition to strive for more.

Meera Sundararajan said...

Contentment is a state of mind. There are so many things that I want to do but in my forties I am confident that I will live long enough to be able to do them. I beleive that I would be as free in my sixties as I was in my twenties, minus the restrictions that held me back in my youth. About death, I would like to go when I am still needed. Would prefer it when people ask " Why" and not "why not?" Good post and very reflective as usual!

Mélange said...

Enjoyed reading.I don't have anything to say though.

anilkurup said...

@ KParthasarathi,

There is no worry about the inevitable.Contentment even if it is measured on things possessed or achieved is still an elusive thing.
Well fantasies mentioned are just some of the fascinations that i know will remain so.

@ Bikramjit,

You got it totally wrong or misunderstood. Contentment was never claimed by me.

@ NRIGirl,

Thank you for appreciating the posts and the comment.

@ Balachandran,

You being one of those few privy to matters of my mind, I do not have to say much.
The pertinent list in the bucket is frugal as I mentioned . Though the fantasies are fantasise that one can ride upon to the fairy land living. Yes the list is short of some.

@ Pettywitter,

Morbid? Is it because of the certainty of mortality that I touched upon?
Perhaps if we learn to take the inevitable as the part of the cycle , the morbid feeling may be avoided. isn't it so?

Alas can man ever be content?

@ Meera Sunderajan,

I liked your statement,"I would like to go when I am still needed. Would prefer it when people ask " Why" and not "why not?".
Thank you for the comment

anilkurup said...

@ Melange,

Tanks for reading anyway.Comment when you have something in mind on the subject.

adithyasaravana said...

I liked the bucket list
I liked the comments
I liked when there was nothing to comment and the freedom to say something when it flashes..because I too went blank..
Not that it is intimidating., to live in the present and make myself happy is what i aspire for.But,
Is the mind free of thinking??

anilkurup said...

@ Adityasaravanan,

I deduct from your comment that good doctors are analytical and reason.
Certainly there was nothing intimidating. Though living in the present is an aspiration for me too, it always do not happen that way. The question of the morrow is always around.
Some are lucky in many ways. May be it is the body chemistry!

Juxtaposition said...

This is creepy. Not because of the thought of death, but because I was making a bucket list this morning. I almost published it on my blog too. It was the most materialistic one, I must add. I wanted to have exotic vacations too. I also wanted to put my kids in the best college of their choice and I wanted to go on pilgrimages too. I guess when you think about it, no one is every fully content. There is always a desire left. Even if its just about being able to write another post on the blog the next day.

anilkurup said...

@ Juxtaposition,

Each one to himself in matters of wishes, desires, likes and dislikes. Temperament too.

Contentment is relative . isn't it?

Milady said...

Melanie here! I enjoyed this piece, please email me--I have a question about your blog. MelanieLBowen[at]gmail[dot]com