The grave issue of bucket lists
Bucket list is a term I’ve never warmed to. Popularised by the 2007 movie of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, it’s the things you must do, and often places to visit, before you “kick the bucket”. There’s quite a few of those books with thousands of activities to complete before you die, too. The Grim Reaper looming over matters doesn’t appeal to me. It goes without saying, doesn’t it?
But, of course, we all have our wishlists and how hard that can make planning the next trip. Do you relentlessly pursue new destinations or fall back on places you know you’ll love, even down to the hotel room number?
If you’re ever in a fix on this issue, let serendipity make the call and take a mystery flight. A few years ago I used to enjoy doing that on a day off; from Sydney you could usually count on a few hours’ shopping or sightseeing in Melbourne or Brisbane, sometimes Adelaide or Hobart. Once, on East-West Airlines I flew to, well, I can’t remember where — it could have been Armidale or Tamworth. It was a turnaround flight, the only one of the day, and I didn’t disembark, arriving home in nice time for morning tea.
Just recently (and I emphasise this social research was done on my own time) I decided on a pin-the-tail-on-thedonkey approach to choosing a destination. With my eyes shut and map of the world in front of me, I took a stab. The finger hit the middle of the Pacific, not within cooee of land. A second try placed me in Timbuktu, once the byword for as magic-carpet ride away as it got.
Have you ever been to a bucket-list destination that was a basket case? Let’s face it, some places just don’t hit the postcard perfection of your imagination.
As a child I would never have dreamed of going to Buckingham Palace, but here I am enjoying the historical moment of being inside. Now I feel awful pointing this out (I am after all in someone else’s home), but things are a little frayed around the edges. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but others have, around light switches and on the walls (undoubtedly they’re the prints of high personages). Sure you wouldn’t like me to slip in with the Jif before the next tour?
From the first time I saw Key Largo I thought how wonderful it would be to shoot the breeze with Lauren Bacall during a hurricane there. Such a witty and wise woman, by all accounts, in an exotic location. Except, when I get to Key Largo it’s a rather featureless hotchpotch of motels, shops and light industrial.
US Route 1 south in Florida is a magnificent sweep over land and water, but you can keep the various keys locked out of sight until the final drop in the bucket, the fabulous Key West, perhaps not a bad place to end your days.
Back to those books on thousands of experiences before you die. Surely one title could be devoted to activities in the time after, complete with pictures. No photos of eternal fires, thanks.
Susan Kurosawa is on assignment.