You Don't Need A Bucket List

“Find the joy in your life.” That’s what Morgan Freeman’s character told Jack Nicholson’s character in the 2007 movie “The Bucket List.” Since then, there’s been a lot of talk about creating and fulfilling bucket lists; a list of must-dos before you kick the bucket. But I think the point of the movie was missed by a lot of people, even though Morgan summed it up in the above quote. It wasn’t the list that made them ultimately find joy, it was the relationship that was formed in the process of their pursuit.

You don’t need a long list of things you must accomplish before you die to have had a fulfilling life. In fact, I think you only need one thing. If you saw the 1991 movie “City Slickers” you know what I mean. Remember this conversation between Curly and Mitch:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Curly: This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.

I realized this myself only recently; when I turned forty. I’m not saying I wasn’t happy or thankful, because I was and I am. I just hadn’t found that one thing yet. I had pretty much, like most women, dedicated myself to following the traditional path of going to school, working hard, getting married and then dedicating every waking hour to making everyone in my family happy. At some point I realized I was missing that one thing, so I decided to write my novel, “In Search of Lucy.” That was my one thing; to become and author and create something distinctive that could live on long after I’m gone. Sort of like my children. For each person that one thing is different and you may not know what it is until you actually experience it. Finding that one thing could really be the fun part, maybe even more fun that a bucket list.

This last month I was working on my series of Murder Mysteries called “A Hint of Murder.” There was a scene where the main character, Alicia, was at home and contemplating something very serious. For some reason I kept rewriting what I wanted her to do. First I said, “Clutching the bottle tightly, Alicia frantically fumbled with the top.” Then I changed it to, “Clutching the bottle tightly, Alicia sat on the edge of the tub entranced by the horizontal lines in the shower curtain.” Each time I changed it, the scene played out in my head. I could actually visualize what was happening, and then keep adjusting that visual until I was ultimately happy with the outcome. There was power in that visualization. I ended up with, “Clutching the bottle tightly, Alicia closed the medicine cabinet and stared at herself in the mirror. A pair of icy blue eyes gazed back at her as she smoothed down her straight blonde hair.”

I realized that this is something I’ve done all my life; visualize what I want. Once you can actually see what you want, see yourself achieving it, then there should be nothing stopping you from obtaining it. That one thing is out there, just waiting for you to discover it. So now you know; you don’t have to jump out of an airplane, or climb Mount Everest, or have a one-nighter with some hot celebrity (well that last one might be your one thing, who knows) you just have to visualize what it is that you truly want, and then go after it with all you’ve got.

Lia Fairchild is a writer and author of “In Search of Lucy” and the murder mystery series “A Hint of Murder.” Look for more about her and updates on her next book at or check out her Facebook page


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