“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?