Hello fellow Earth roamers. Today I bring you a list, one which may seem silly but actually carries with it the utmost importance. This list is a bucket list, meaning a list of things that one must do before they “kick the bucket”. (Not a list of buckets)
I think practices that remind you that death can come at literally any time are necessarily refreshing within the cyclical context many of us find ourselves. And summertime, for me, is the best time to express the spontaneity and adventure that so many of us find naturally.
That’s why, this bucket list is less focused on the meaningful things one wishes to accomplish before they die, but rather the seemingly meaningless things that we frequently accomplish but don’t appreciate to their fullest capacity. Essentially, I’m giving you tips on how to spice up your life and/or look like a crazy person but not care because you’re having fun. Believe it or not, life becomes much less boring when you allow yourself to focus and fully appreciate each moment. Even if that means appreciating the fact that your pimples are miraculously arranged into the shape of the little dipper. Or that even though you were awakened by your cat vomiting a hairball onto your bed, appreciating that you don’t have to clean yourself with your tongue.
Doing new things or putting a new spin on an old thing is a blessing in this way, because it forces ourselves to be immersed in the moment and put some boundaries down. New things also provide us with the “danger” of the unexpected, which can be wildly refreshing. Things can always be worse, but we can contextualize them and experience them as better… here is: (drum roll please)
The official summer bucket list:
- Acknowledge a stranger’s existence: While this may not seem profound, I can guarantee that the typical self-absorbed person rarely takes a second to appreciate another person’s existence. And the benefits to manifesting this connection between two people are actually much greater than the typical self-absorbed person would expect. If someone catches your eye when you pass by them, give them the service of knowing whatever it is that they did makes them stand out. Acknowledge the individuality that each person carries. If someone is wearing a fantastic hat that you’ve only imagined in your wildest dreams, the least you can say is “cool hat, bro.” And if the beautiful girl who always makes you feel insecure is in the same room as you, why not compliment her on her hair or ask her for beauty advice? When you go out of your way to make these connections, not only is someone reaffirmed in their own humanity, but you are likely going to receive that same affirmation in return (Even if it means getting to be with someone way cooler than you just because you’re kind). This can also be done in a bigger picture sense by volunteering time or items to an organization or person. Help a neighbor clean their house, or spend some time serving meals at a soup kitchen. Spare art supplies or books can go to a local daycare or school, and you may even get some cute thank-you letters in return. Appreciation can go a long way, and is often the start to a good friendship, which can often lead to a partner in crime to spend your summer with.
- Do something nostalgic with the passion you had as a child: Summertime embodies nostalgia in my mind, which can often be very depressing. I realized that this nostalgia can be purposeful in motivating us to do deeply soul-nourishing activities. Perhaps this has something to do with the cognitive dissonance and apparent belief that the past was superior to the present – so you can morph into an old version of yourself that isn’t connected to the current. Regardless of where this childlike-wonder comes from, it can be a very beautiful thing. Run through a field barefoot (check for broken beer bottles first), listen to your favorite song from childhood ( really loud) while driving with all the windows down, have a campfire and sleep under the stars, or simply explore around your town into the wee hours of the night with close friends. Do some special arts and crafts, like a customized flower-pot or a picture frame for a close friend. Visit an old friend or family member and reminisce over the old times. The vibrancy and freshness that comes from straying from the “grown-up” routine is powerful and can give an entire new perspective on one’s life. Don’t be afraid to break your own rules, to go a little further, and to laugh as loud as you want, just like you did in the cherished days of childhood.
- Learn something thoroughly: A key piece to the summertime face-lift is engaging and expanding your own abilities. When we learn something, it brings the fabric of our life experience together in a slightly new way. This can be a life-altering experience sometimes, but it can also be inspiration to pursue something more in-depth. Learning is the greatest form of exploration in my opinion. Pick up a book about philosophy, or sharpen up your cooking skills by learning a few new recipes and methods. (Don’t forget to share your delicious treats with coworkers or neighbors). Listen to someone else’s story or troubles wholeheartedly. Perhaps listen to a podcast or watch a documentary about something outside of your expertise. The world is such a vast and information-centered place that there is always something new to amaze yourself with. And keeping your mind open to other perspectives and ideas, or pushing yourself to learn a new skill, makes you that much more amazing as an individual.
- Express yourself: Self expression doesn’t always mean creating something, as it can also mean doing things that are important and meaningful to you as a person. It is valuable to allow yourself the opportunity to define and fulfill your own boundaries, outside of the expectations of society. This gives you the chance to be fully independent and be in touch with freedom that is too rare in today’s world. It is an incredible experience to gather at a concert with large numbers of people for the singular purpose of drinking in the precious music of another person. The power of being lost in a group where everyone feels connected is just as great as being completely alone and in control of your destiny. Dancing carelessly to music, or walking aimlessly, or simply spending an afternoon to yourself and a cup of tea – are all ways that one can fully express themselves while simultaneously having nobody to answer to. Do things that you’ve never dared to try before: jump fearlessly into a pool, run a marathon, or create a special DIY project that reflects your personality. One must be able to explore themselves at times too, because that is often where the most valuable golden nuggets hide themselves away. Let your mind explode with the thoughts you usually suppress for “more important matters”. Be free in the fullness of who you are as a person.
The spirit of summer time always seems to hit me in the face on the first skin melting day of summer. As the days grow longer, I always feel as if I’m not living to the fullest. Hopefully, this list will provide me with the guidance and inspiration needed to propel my summertime-self into the winter that lurks inevitably around the corner. Go get a tan, flash some cute guys, and then diss them when they hit on you. That’s freedom. That’s summertime.
Do you have any special summer bucket list ideas? Any new habits or skills to try out? Please comment below!