So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Pinterest nut and am constantly scrolling through it (in fact, it’s my go to app when I’m on the toilet). Anyhoot, because I’m always looking at mental health issues, quotes, etc. I get a lot of self-help stuff on my feed. I’ve been noticing a lot lately about how we need to LIVE OUR LIVES LARGE! How it’s so important to travel the world…make every single one of our dreams come true…do something spectacular and world changing every day. And here’s my question: Why?
I’m the first to admit that I live a somewhat little life. To be honest with you, I have no aspirations to climb Everest or hike for a year around Europe or write the great American novel. Instead, I like my little life, and am tired of apologizing because I don’t want more.
It’s not that I don’t have dreams and aspirations…of course I do. But they are a bit more contained: I want to get some books published, travel to each state in the U.S., become a motivational speaker. And that’s pretty much it.
You hear a lot about bucket lists and I know a few people who have them. I’ve never made one, because first of all, there it is in the previous paragraph, and second, because I just don’t know what the hell else I’d put on it (besides kissing Taron Eggerton…I’d even give up my dream to live in Antartica for a year if this ever came to fruition 😳 🙄). A lot of bucket lists include things like: riding horses on the beach, attending the Olympics, swimming in each of the 4 major oceans (are there minor ones…I never really thought about that), seeing the Great Pyramids in Egypt, and you get the point. Actually, as I was researching a bit about this topic, another recommended item for a bucket list was to swim with wild pigs in Exuma, Bahamas. 😐
Here’s the problem with those: first of all, I hate big crowds so the Olympics is out. Second, the thought of a horse pooping on the beach takes the ‘romance’ out of that idea; I’ve swam in 2 of the ‘major Oceans’ already and to be brutally honest, they both looked the same to me. The thought of hiking through the dessert to see something that has no gift shop attached just sounds freaking exhausting, and swimming with wild pigs is something I would only do if it was between that or hearing yet another one of ma’s stories about a friend of a friend of an uncle’s cousin’s neighbor who got splashed while walking down the street 6 months ago. Get my drift?
Is it bad not to want to do some of these things? No. Is it bad to DO some of these things? Of course not! I’ve actually done a few bucket listings that others might have written down: run a few marathons, bungee jumped (which literally made me pee myself…it was the most horrifying 15 minutes of my entire life, including 16 hours of back labor), got an advanced degree, etc. I did these because I just wanted to at the time…I wasn’t really thinking about how they might be part of a list.
Nowadays, it’s almost shameful if you don’t have high aspirations:
“I’m going to sail around the Galapogos Islands in Ecuador!”
“Wow…so have you traveled to other countries before?”
“No…never been out of the state.”
All righty then, good luck with that.
My pursuits are smaller and it’s little things that actually make me the most happy:
- buying things for my house and fixing it up just so, knowing it’s all mine
- smelling Dottie’s little head after I give her a bath
- cuddling up next to Edward when we’re watching a scary film (every night)
- hearing the cardinal sing outside my office window who has been around for the last few years
- walking in my classroom on the first day of the semester and being so excited about having new students to teach and get to know
- running hard until I’m a sweaty mess and then taking a cold shower and getting squeaky clean
- walking around the pond near my house as I cool down after a run and watching the geese hatch their babies every year
- seeing the green come back every spring and loving the smells of the fall
- smelling lilacs when they bloom…my favorite scent in the world
- warming up muffins ma makes and devouring them with tons of butter on top
- buying new art supplies and organizing them
- wandering around the dollar store and seeing what new books are on the shelves
- the smell of a new car
- the smell of ‘English Leather’ because it reminds me of my grandpa
- laughing with my sis so hard that we can’t talk, while no one else even understands what’s so funny
- playing cards with my ma and seeing her get a pissy look on her face when she’s losing (which by the way, is a lot…I have a ‘system’ for winning)
- mowing my yard and admiring how nice it looks while the dogs play
- running in the first snow of the year
- walking in the rain
- looking at my son’s photographs and being blown away each time by his talent
- seeing my boy smile anytime and every time
- flipping my pillow over in the middle of night to get to the cool side
- cracking a window in the summer so I can listen to the crickets as I go to sleep
- writing in this blog and typing Kristi xoxo at the end because I know I have another post done that I’m happy with
- reading, sewing, painting
- biting into a just picked tomato
- fixing chicken and noodles on the coldest night of the year
And my list goes on and on. See, it’s obvious I’m not living a ‘large’ life. In fact, it’s pretty darn small. But it fits me. I’m happy with it. Sometimes I’ll be talking to someone who has just returned from a trip or done something big, and they’ll say ‘You gotta go’ or ‘You just have to do this.’ And when you say you really don’t want too, they look at you like you’re out of your mind…as if being happy with smaller things is wrong. Why? I think it’s great to plan and save and spend lots of money on bucket list items, but my stuff just requires me to walk out the door. I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to plan. I just ‘do’.
Maybe part of this is because of being bipolar. Sometimes my life is enough to handle as is, I certainly don’t need anymore stimulation or anxiety or stress. Like when I travel, I worry about what my moods will be like. When I went to Florida in March, I was still in the midst of a depression and it wasn’t alleviated by being on the beach. The beach was awesome and beautiful, but I was still down. My environment doesn’t change my bipolar. I can be sad at home for free…as opposed to on a boardwalk for a couple thousand bucks.
So, I’m thinking that instead of telling people they have to do something ‘awesome’ with their lives, or have bucket lists that include ‘running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain’, maybe we should just tell people to live their lives on their terms; in their own way without any judgement. It’s true we only get 1 life (at least that’s what I believe), so why should I be forced to live it in the way others tell me too? Why is it wrong to be content with what I already have? Already do? It makes me happy…and isn’t that the secret to living your best life ever anyway? I think it just might be.