Bucket list Bucketful

by Tabitha Kidwell

I write a lot of blogs while I’m running – it gives me the time to reflect and put my thoughts together. I often come home from a run and sit down at my computer, still sweating, so I can capture the words while they are fresh. I stopped running at the end of April because I had a twinge of plantar fasciitis that I wanted to let heal before doing the Camino de Santiago in Spain. So that is why I haven’t blogged for awhile.

Or maybe I just got busy.

Or lazy.

In any case, I’ve had an eventful month since my last blog about India. I have been to Kuala Lumpur, the Perhentian Islands (off of the Malaysian coast), Columbus, Chicago, Paris, Dijon, and Taizé. When I talked about my plans, people would always say things like “I’d love to go to India,” “One day I’ll learn to scuba dive,” “I’ve always wanted to go to Spain,” etc. It’s really not fair that I get to do it all at once. I’m like the fat kid at the bucket list buffet. Normal people spend most of their time looking forward to experiences like these (I know this because I have in the past been a normal person myself). I feel really blessed to have the life that I do, a life whose path seems to lead me to incredible experiences without very much effort on my own part.

I’m certainly not going to complain about this, but it has resulted in the strange predicament of looking forward to an exciting and unique experience while I was already in the midst of an experience that was exciting and unique in a completely different way. While I was leading English camps in Indonesia, I was excited to get to India. While in India, I couldn’t wait to get home. Once I got home, I spent all my time planning and shopping for the Camino de Santiago.

I learned a lot from each individual experience, but what I learned from having one after another was to stop putting any effort at all into wishing time would move faster. Time moves fast enough without our willing it forward. There are three parts of every experience: first, looking forward to it in the future; then actually living it; and then looking back on the memory. It’s beautiful when the experience is still ahead of you, when you can imagine how it will be in a million different ways. 999,999 of those possibilities disappear as soon as it happens, and then the happening is far too quick, and the memory far too faint. I hate that this is how time works, that it steals our present and seals it into the past while we are distracted by the possibilities of the future.

So, after a year with a lifetime’s worth of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, I have learned to enjoy every moment for what it is, without nostalgia for the past or longing for the future. I’m not just talking about milestones, vacations, or dreams-come-true. Every moment, no matter how banal, is still once-in-a-lifetime. Sunday afternoon at the grocery store, the Tuesday morning commute, Friday evening happy hour – these might happen all the time, but each time is unique, and together, they are the building blocks of our lives. If we spend our time wishing for the next experience, we might end up with no more than a pile of bricks. By treasuring each brick as it comes, we can be sure to build something beautiful.

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