This week an email was sent to me and my colleagues asking us if we would like to share our bucket lists. This piqued my interest for a moment, and then I felt like sobbing. I couldn't think of anything at all.
I've had a rich life. I've travelled, had kids, lived in many places, eaten at interesting places. I have already been privileged to have experience many of the things that go on a bucket list. I've had my adventures. I'm in my quiet years now, and that is fine. But lately I worry that the only thing I have to look forward to is brushing my teeth and doing the dishes.
Since recently completing graduate school I've had the same feeling of being lost in transition that I had when I finished my undergrad degree. This time I have less energy and many more trap-like responsibilities, deep roots in my career and community, and the knowledge of the rapidly approaching challenges of retirement and how far behind I am in preparing for it. Oh I'm still young, but I am middle aged and lately I have been feeling it and it is making me sad.
Here is a quote that captures my melancholy:
“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke” ― Vincent van Gogh
And another that give me a sense of hope and resolve:
"Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn't, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I'm given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one's own vision." - Kiki Smith
What would happen if I surrendered to the apparent emptiness of my life, my personal journey? What would happen if I stopped trying to control, lead, facilitate, manipulate to gain something from it all? What if I stopped feeling entitled and instead felt grateful?