I don't have a bucket list.
And don't really know why though I suspect it's been all too hard to put together. I spend much of my time living in the now - not even in the moment - just looking to do what needs to be done right now. That's great sometimes, but it does mean that life has the potential to pass me by.
As a child, I loved trains. I had train sets that I played with and always loved travelling by train. I'm old enough to remember the 'red rattlers' in Melbourne, followed by the blue trains, and was always excited to spot the newest silver ones, which are now probably 40 years old and quite possibly still in service. I 'graduated' to the MTR in Hong Kong, the Intercity 125s in Britain, the TGV in France and the Chinese high speed trains being constructed frighteningly quickly between major cities.
There is, however, only one train that I really dreamed of going on from the moment I saw a picture of a Japanese Bullet Train, the famous Shinkansen, rocketing past Mt Fuji. I'd heard stories of their lightning fast speed and their punctuality. That dream is reality right now as I write this article. I'm aboard the Hikari 473, 13:03 super express Shinkansen, heading to Kyoto from Tokyo at around 300kmh. It's an amazing experience, my fourth now, and I sit in awe each time. At this speed, the Japanese country side rockets by, the electric motors scream their high pitched whine, the air rushes past, then suddenly a thud and slight rock as we pass another Shinkansen in the opposite direction. The ride is so smooth that my delicious bento box and can of Asahi don't move.
So if I had a bucket list, the Shinkansen ride would be ticked off. But in my mind, a bucket list is not about crossing off a place or activity on the list. It should be about truly experiencing each item and taking something away from it. Today, I lived the picture postcard I remember from my childhood. I saw Fuji-san, it's top covered in snow, savoured the flavours of the chicken, dumplings and rice in my bento box, enjoyed the maltiness of the beer, marvelled at the technology hurtling me down the track, felt genuine respect for the people of Japan who are courteous, polite and welcoming.
You see, bucket lists are important. If we want to live a fulfilled life, we must do more with ourselves and our minds than sitting behind a computer screen, phone screen or TV screen. As human beings, we grow through experience, we learn through adventure. Life passes us by as rapidly as the countryside outside the Shinkansen window, and we risk stagnating. Don't just have a bucket list to tick off places, to just take a photograph and move on; have one to drive the experiences you want to have, to feel the emotions you want to feel, in order that you grow and become who you want to be.
Walt Disney said "If you can dream it, you can do it." You simply have to take the first step towards whatever dream you have. And do it today.
Leave me a comment. What is on, or should be on, your bucket list? What have you ticked off and what did it mean to you?
I don't have a bucket list, but I certainly will now.
Live your dreams.