Finding a hole at the bottom of a bucket list


Once summer ends, I will begin my final year of college. This makes me feel kind of old.

At different stages of my life, always from a non-senior-in-college’s viewpoint, the seniors-in-college have seemed so put together and so, so very much older than I feel right now.

This makes me think the world must be totally changing so that each year, the seniors-in-college become significantly less and less accomplished/mature/tall/prepared/etc. Or maybe it’s just a matter of perspective, and everyone feels this way every time?

Either way, all this thinking about “the beginning of the end” makes me realize how much I still “want” to do at North Park and in Chicago. “Want” gets those quotations because it’s hard for me to tell if I truly want to do these things or if I do them because I think I should, or because I want to avoid feeling sad about not doing them later.

Confusing, right? Yeah, tell me about it.

This internal affliction inevitably leads to the creation of a bucket list. In theory, this glorious bucket list solves all my problems. It is a culmination of everything I truly want to accomplish, serving as a rescue from the anxiety of “missing out.” My bucket list should be freeing and invigorating, an invitation to escape the mundane and venture into something special.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

You see, the idea of a bucket list actually makes me quite anxious. What if I forget something really important? What if I focus too much on the bucket list and stop living in the moment? What if the things on this list aren’t even things I want to do, and then I waste my time on an arbitrary laundry list of museums and festivals and movie screenings?

This is the epitome of my long-time, on-and-off-again, love/hate relationship with the bucket list. Sometimes things turn out OK, but more often than not the bucket list leads me right back to the stress that it was supposed to release in the first place.

An example of this is from the other day, when I couldn’t get the Internet to work. I thought, “This is the perfect opportunity to get out of the house!”

While it’s sad that this is what it takes for me to venture out of my air-conditioned lair, what I’d like to focus on is my deeper intention for getting outside.

I’ve become increasingly fond of riding my bike around the city. Sometimes it’s a huge source of stress—a girl can only be cut off in traffic so many times before she flips…the bird. But other times, it’s relaxing and cathartic. I’ve been trying to spend my free time doing things that relax me, plus, my mental bucket list includes riding to several different Chicago destinations.

The more I thought about it, the more excited I got about this bike ride. I packed lightly—a towel, a book, headphones and a blue Powerade. Not my wallet, though, because my bike rides tend to morph into ugly strings of errands when I have got my wallet handy. I said to myself, this is a day of relaxation and bucket listing, not consumerism…for today I ride free from shopping’s siren song. Free, I tell you!

So off I went, adventurous and wallet-less.

At first, I got the pleasure of enjoying the bucket list at its very best. I was soaking in the warm, sunny day in my swimsuit, riding along the water, people-watching and enjoying a personal serenade from Adam Levine, thanks to my earbuds. Why don’t I do this every single day? This is fantastic! I’m so happy, why don’t I always—

My euphoria was rudely interrupted by the strange wobble-bump, wobble-bump, wobble-bump, rhythm of my tires, indicating a popped inner-tube.

Seriously?

The bucket list’s evil brother, Unpredictability, reared its ugly head and ruined my Zooey Deschanel moment. Was it a piece of glass? A staple? A rock? I guess it doesn’t really matter what caused the flat, because the only thing on my mind at that moment was the fact that I was 10 miles from home, suddenly transportation-less and regrettably wallet-less.

I begrudgingly dismounted my bike, looked up the closest bike shop, and started walking. My mood worsened during the trek but, thankfully, I discovered that the shop is home to the world’s kindest bike mechanic, Pat.

After I explained that I was the dumbest person on the planet and didn’t have my wallet, he graciously fixed my bike for free and let me return the next day to pay.

As I rode home, I made mental notes to write the most elaborate, praise-filled Yelp review the Internet has ever seen, and to stop making bucket lists.

I told myself, “See, Abi, this is exactly why we don’t make bucket lists. They’re supposed to be fun and exciting, but really they just invite unpredictable stressors! This afternoon has been ridiculous!”

But then I started thinking of how interesting the afternoon actually was. I ended up at a bike shop I never would have gone to otherwise, where I met some incredibly cool people. I got great exercise and some sun on the 20-plus-mile ride, and learned about one of the shop’s special offers to boot: a “bike mechanic basics” workshop, open to the public.

As I rounded the last corner toward home, I decided maybe bucket lists aren’t so bad after all, as long as I can make sure I’m more prepared. With a smile, I selected the bike workshop as my next bucket list endeavor… along with “always, always, always bring your wallet.”


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