Recently I realized that my bucket list is not as expansive as those of others similarly stuck inside for the past 17 months. In fact, my bucket list is a little “pail” in comparison. But I’m still working on it, and I hope to expand it in the coming year.
What bucket lists have in common with daydreams is that both are first steps towards moving from imagination into action. From what I read, many of those who love to travel are moving from bucket lists to research, reservations, and real-life trips.
Has your bucket list changed because of the pandemic? Have you been daydreaming about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or finding solace in the possibility of solo walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain? Will you go on a wine tour in California or will you stop and smell the roses in the gardens of Asheville, North Carolina? Before the pandemic, how often did you consider island hopping in the Galapagos or seeing the undulating curtains of the Northern Lights in Iceland? The pandemic has changed the way that many of us see the world and our place in it.
I belong to several Facebook groups for older women who love to travel. On one of my favorites, Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group, I was interested to hear about how attitudes about taking bucket list trips had changed in recent months. Here are some comments:
“I’m feeling swept away by dreams of trips as far away as I can get after a year of nothing.”
“My feeling is Live It Up Now because who knows what lies ahead?”
“My bucket list used to be the places I want to go before I die. After the pandemic, I decided to do all the trips on my list. Why wait? Don’t know what the future of my health or the world will be. I have five scheduled Road Scholar trips into May 2022. Will book more soon.”
“My list has gotten longer! Life is short!”
Where people are going and how they’re getting there runs the gamut. My eyes pop at reading about once-in-a-lifetime around-the-world journeys, and it makes me realize that some folks have been able to save funds during the pandemic in order to venture farther when it ends. Others know that they may never be able to take a trip like that but know that wondrous trips can be had closer to home as well. That’s especially true for outdoor adventures—from hiking the National Parks with our families, to hoofing it on walks in U.S. cities, to spotting rare birds in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. People are seeing Heaven in a Grain of Sand in their own state rather than having to visit a desert on another continent.
While my personal bucket list continues to morph and change, it always includes India. Even though I have visited several times in the past, I feel as if I have not made a dent in the list of places to see there. I had planned a trip there for February 2022, but it was recently cancelled because of covid in South Asia. For now, India will remain on my list, and I will wait patiently.
Travel has never been the only dream on a bucket list. Other lists are filled with such goals as improving relationships with family or learning a new language or losing weight. These days many are refocusing their travel goals on what they consider more meaningful travel, as well. Some are volunteering to work with children and adults on a plethora of projects in the U.S. and abroad. One friend and her husband just returned from a wonderful experience teaching English in Spain.
I’ve been reading a lot of posts about people who are reassessing their lives during this pandemic year and trying a different—and even transformative—path. As a 73-year-old who emerged from a layoff three years ago to begin to write about travel, I feel strongly that people can try a different direction, especially in the wake of world-changing challenges. At the least we can test the waters to see who we have become over the past year and to venture out.
Before the pandemic I found this quote by writer Sue Monk Kidd (The Life of Bees). For me, it is now even more meaningful:
“Maybe we have to take an extra deep breath when we begin what feels like a daring venture later in life. Fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty… it’s never too late. Life is filled with large and small renaissances all the way to the end. Older women, particularly, have cultivated the wild heart, wise mind, and daring spirit that make third acts and late life renaissances possible. I mean, if you’re going to err, you might as well do so on the side of audacity.”
In other words, it may be time to fill, refill, and fulfill your Bucket List in order to live your best life.
Barbara Winard has earned degrees in English literature, journalism, and, later in life, gerontology. Although for the past 25 years she was a senior editor and writer of online encyclopedia articles for children. She began her solo travels in college, and after returning from a long trip to Asia, wandered off the street and was hired by the Asia Society in New York City to produce films and print materials for adults and children about Asian culture. She was also a producer and writer for New York City’s public television station, WNET/13.
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