146 - a Bucket List

What is one to do on retirement? I explore here what people do with this opportunity.

Many write a bucket list¹; not a bad idea, in the sense of picking some objectives in what might easily become a wasteland of not-very-much. A bucket list avoids that and perhaps would maximise remaining existence.


There seem to be three or perhaps four classes of item:

•   travel, in the sense of go see, go do, sometimes just go;

•  a wide range of unfamiliar short-term experience, which includes the likes of bungee-jumping, sky-diving, even having sex with a stranger (!); then there’s

•  the longer-term experience, which includes gaining a skill - this includes learning a language, changing your diet, having a makeover (and keeping to it) and learning to play an instrument; also changing your career, finding a new profession, going back to education (for a change), starting a business;

•  person-to-person interactions [Celestine Chua has some sensible ideas.]; a nice surprise, go say hello to a past teacher, tell someone something important, do an unrewarded deed, be a mentor, make friends (and with strangers). And so on; closure on past unhappiness, burying the hatchet where appropriate - you get the picture, I’m sure. This is a group of things missing from many people’s lists, that should be considered and included.


In the experience group many include doing a marathon or triathlon or both - agreed as life-objective. I fancy an ultra-run.. Do a new sport - good idea. At my age, more cross-training would be good, especially stretching. Celestine Chua targets diving, skiing, the Inca trail, any extreme sport, ballooning. I’ve extended this group by adding her list of new skills; chasing any passion, learning board games (as skill), but also dancing, acting, knitting, cooking.


Jessica Reed thinks the bucket list is silly; she has a contrary opinion. She lists things often included but which should be avoided ‘at all costs’, which sentiment she fails to explain². I list her suggestions below

1, 8-10,12-14,16)    Go to the Vatican, Stonehenge, Everest base Camp, Pisa, Uluru, Paris, Vegas, the Burning man

2, 11, 15, 17)    Go on a cruise,  do a safari, go Skydiving, go Surfing

3)    have sex with a stranger

4)    kiss the blarney stone

5)    try hard drugs

6)    try snow sports

7)    learn to play an instrument


Done: 1,6,7,8,10,12,17 Not done skiing, but done a lot in the snow and on ice. Done lots of non-standing surfing.

No intention to do: 3,4,5,13,14,16

Never heard of: 12,16.

The Burning Man (16) is a festival, so rate this as going to one.

Uluru (12) is a rock in the middle of nowhere, where one goes to see the sunrise. Done that in many places, several in China. I think sunsets are better and more to be valued.

No urgency to try 2, 11, 15.

Which leaves 9, going to Everest base Camp. I’ve been high in the Karakoram, wouldn’t mind doing similar again. Base Camp doesn’t appeal, if only for the litter. I think my trip with Expedia was probably better all round.

Skydiving rates with bungee-jumping. No thanks. I learned enough when doing abseiling. Doing an abseil on your ow—no-one around—is quite scary enough. It’s the moment when you start that gets to you—going over the window-sill edge, stepping off the cliff—everything else is routine.


However, taking the general issues on board, the suggestions she collected from her workmates amount to travel and experience, where some may be both, plus possible skills gains.


I found long, long lists of suggestions from Celestine Chua, referenced above, who lists 100 suggestions.  Her list doesn’t start with retirement. She starts with travel, then adds a language, a new profession (or business) and then she gets more inventive, so I show here those not readily obvious from my groupings above:


•  get to your ideal weight—a good idea, already achieved and to return to.

• various momentary experiences, good sunsets, barefoot in the rain, solar eclipse. Less common, out-of-body experiences

•  in the long-term experiences, she adds things such as: having a pet (which precludes many of the other activities, I think), doing public speaking, where she means large-scale (like anyone is interested?), big parties, a makeover, social etiquette, living in a different country, several changes of diet—and changing the world.



All of these make me feel really fulfilled. So what am I going to do with my retirement? Lots of new stuff obviously and some old stuff will be revisited.


On my five-year list for retirement were:


  1.     do some cooking (I generally avoid cooking where possible); do some sewing.


•  get back to running in Britain, easily begun and already morphed into the targets of getting regularly under 20 minutes for 5km, back under 40 mins for 10km and something longer. this could generalise as some lifestyle/health objectives.

•  do some travelling, where a lot is done and the list accommodates C’s wants and other family.

•  I don’t feel any great need to learn a language, having consistently failed with Mandarin and the failure every time I attempt any new word with C simply guarantees I’m not ‘going there’.

•  lots of writing (e.g. this), possibly including something longer or larger or different, like a novel—but can I be bothered?

•  I’d like to write / arrange some music. In the same vein, get back to playing keyboards and brass. These seem to want (not my doing, theirs) to wait until the exercise becomes limited by age or circumstance.

•  fixing the long-term income stream problem, which may be already done—but could be screwed by any of the above.

•  encouraging the family (siblings, children) into doing more together; we have not, for most of our lives; we probably should.


By bucket list standards, my ideas are far too limited. I need to get into the life-changing list. More retirement thoughts when I have them. My head is a desert and at the same time totally wet.


DJS 20141110

Off to make a cake...


1 2007 film of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

² Her failure to explain bothers me. By all means knock some activities as not worthwhile, but she did the bucket list herself (or pretended to). Opportunity to make intelligent comment missed.

Photo at top by C of D. (what red eyes! must have been wearing old lenses) taken by C somewhen and somewhere in China. Red-eye is genuine; too much alcohol, too little exercise and wearing old lenses too long in two senses. I’m an optician’s nightmare; I wear 30 day lenses until they fall apart, which may easily be a year.


Discovery, at JPF-C pushing me to improve layout, that footnote numbering fails easily on upload. It does for her site too and when uploading her Word pages on my site. Fix: use the unicode symbol¹, not the superscript action1. If you can see a difference, especially if one is not superscript, please write, using the button below. There may be a page of Style notes to write, following on from Readability.

© David Scoins 2017