30 DAYS TO BE A BETTER MAN: (12) CREATE YOUR BUCKET LIST

ROTTERDAM – Today, my guess is I will be identifying a couple of activities I have planned in between tomorrow and my untimely death in about 60 years. Chris, all-round Man and real-time adventurer, a modern-day Indiana Jones from the Art of Manliness, writes:

Run a marathon. Get a degree. Write a book. Build a house. Every man has goals. Sometimes our goals are lofty aspirations (make a difference, change the world), sometimes they are simply tasks we need to achieve in order to function better (sleep more, quit smoking). Too often in life we get caught up in our day to day business and time just slips right past us. At the end of each year, we habitually look back and sum up the events of that year, taking stock of what we really accomplished.

Aren’t bucket lists supposed to consist of adventerous and sometimes dangerously stupid ideas of things to do before you kick the bucket (hence the name). I still want to quit smoking at some point, but it’s not really on my bucket list. Although Chris doesn´t seem to agree with me, he agrees with me:

The things you once could only dream of are now within your reach; why not take hold of them?

See, why don’t you? Unlock the hamster cage in which society’s got us running in. Fuck your mortgage, your student loans, your relationship, and move to Argentinia! Or become a fire fighter. I don’t quite remember what I wanted to become when I was a kid. I think it was a knight of sorts.

So, in order to keep track of your goals, and to keep reminding yourself that there is a better version of you somewhere down the line in the future, you should really ought to make a bucket list. You know, to keep you moving. This motivation is of grave importance to someone who might want to be become a Great Man someday:

(…) we’re surrounded by ordinary people who aren’t doing anything special either. So we settle and stick with doing what’s safe.

The feeling that you’re not doing anything special haunts me. I might be slightly megolomaniac in my belief that I can (and should) change the world, make my mark, leave my footstep, however, I am pretty damn sure I am not alone in this. I once read that men feel that need more, because women leave behind children. Men do too, of course, but not in the same way. I imagine (I really can’t, though) that once you’re carried a child to full term you kinda feel as if you’ve done enough. The pressure’s gone. At least, that is what I once read.

Then again, men, unlike women, are destined for great adventure:

Wake up. Head to work. Work. Head Home. Dinner. Sleep. Repeat.

Wake up. Head to work. Work. Head Home. Dinner. Sleep. Repeat.

Wake up. Head to work. Work. Head H……time out. Is this as good as it gets?

What happened to living life to the fullest? Where is the daring adventure that we dreamed about as a kid? Many of us have lost the passion for adventure that filled our childhood, and as real men we should struggle to regain it.

Whatever happened to your ambition to become a mountaineer? Hm? Well? What happened? ‘D your balls drop off? In all seriousness, like with many of these challenges, the Art of Manliness does address an issue. When I look at my own life, there have been times I lost track of my own passions. I got trapped in some bad habits, got lazy, and I got easy. Just stopped doing things because I wanted to do them and only did things because I had to.

Again, I imagine I am not alone in this experience. A momentus proportion of time in our lives we are destined to do things because we’re told to do them. You listen to and obey your parents, teachers, professors, and bosses, and at the end of your life, the nurse in your old people’s home who points out that you just won Bingo.

After all, we’re all cogs in a system that does not work for us. Capitalism is beneficial for the .1%, and some parts of life can be compared to one of those hamster spinning wheels.

The annoyance I feel with questions like “is this as good as it gets?” is that they too are ruled by consumerism. They too are designed so you can add a new dimension to your identity through consumption. This consumption can be products, services, or ideology. Even when you don’t want to be a cog in the machine, and you step out, you’re still a cog in the machine, albeit placed on a slightly different angle.

Somehow, these Buzzfeed-inspired life choices are always linked to consumption of some kind. Maybe not directly, but saying that you like light traveling (as in: backpacking) has consequences for how you view yourself. As a global citizen, or a rugged and experienced adventurer, or an amateur anthropologist curious to find out more about the Other. These dimensions of our identities are linked with consumption. Conscious, “green” consumption, perhaps, but consumption nonetheless.

Didn’t it ever occur to you that when you buy Fairtrade coffee and a shopping bag for life, you were still part of the same system as the people who shop at Primark are in?

Anyway, I am getting off track here. Point is, a sense of adventure is manly. And like many other manly things, we somehow lost it. This one is not really the fault of those damned women, apparently. We just need a reminder that there’s a more fantastic me somewhere in me, and doing all these things, complete all the activities on my bucket list, will express that inner me that is so much more fulfilled than the me who’s currently running business.

Today’s task is to create your bucket list. Set aside about 30 minutes of your day and think about all the things you’ve always wanted to do. Then write them down. Writing creates a contract with yourself and makes you more likely to follow through with your dreams. The goal is to come up with at least 10 items for your bucket list. If you’re like me, this could take a lot longer than you think.

Now, if you’re having trouble coming up with items for your list, it might help to create categories such as these:

Travel

Relationships

Career

Financial

Entertainment

Education

Health

Okay, here we go, in no particular order:

  1. I want to travel to all seven continents in my lifetime. Corny, I know. I’ve done four now (officially).
  2. I want to write a book. Hopefully more than one.
  3. I want to write a movie script.
  4. I want to finish my research on social change.
  5. I want to have one of those old-fashioned globes that you open and then there’s booze inside.
  6. I want to look like Michelangelo’s David (disregarding the small penis).
  7. I want to earn enough money that money becomes irrelevant. I don’t know exactly how much I’d need to earn to stop worrying about it all-together. I don’t particularly feel the need to be a millionaire, but if I look around and see how many people worry about money, I really feel the need to not become one of them.
  8. I want to be able to speak at least four languages.
  9. I want to have an extensive library with one of those moving ladders.
  10. I want to create a new “School” of Sociology.

Now that you’ve created your bucket list, look it over and pick one goal as the one you next plan to accomplish. Pick the one that you can most reasonably complete this year. Then, come up with a plan on how you’re going to to accomplish this goal. Think through and make a list of everything you would need to do to make it happen. Then pick one task from the list and do it in the next 24 hours.

Really?

Hm. Okay. I started working out again, so guess #6, vanity, óh, vanity, is the most plausible candidate for short-term *completion*.

Remember, a little bit of adventure is in the reach of every man. It doesn’t have to mean spending all your money or giving up your responsibilities. You can live like a happily ordinary guy 362 days a year, but just leave 3 days for doing something extraordinary, something that reminds you that you’re alive.

So, who wants to go skydiving?

Man-meter: I enjoyed writing my bucket-list. It gave me a sense of perspective.

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