I have no idea if it’s any good or not, but that much-discussed movie, “The Bucket List,” soared to #1 in the box office last weekend.
The bigfoot critics–no doubt eager to get back to some Quentin Tarantino movie in which the characters take turns plunging ice picks into a beagle’s head–hate it, but we’ve discussed it here several times in the context of putting together a Life List: Do we need one? If so, what should go on it?
Spinning a quick pop-sociology theory, I speculate that the movie’s doing well not just because of its aging but still bankable stars, Nicholson and Freeman, but because it taps into some aging-boomer anxiety about what to do with those ever-fleeting moments. And, also, there’s just something compact and elegant about a List. Do it. Check! Do it. Check!
I made a stab at a Life List a few weeks ago, but I disliked it almost as soon as I wrote it up. Asking myself why, this is all I come up with right now: It didn’t seem BIG enough, dangerous enough, audacious enough. Reading all of George Orwell’s fiction might be a nice summer diversion, but are you telling me–that is, am I telling you?–that it deserves a spot on somebody’s Must-Do-Before-Adios list? Somehow that line from Prufrock, “measured out my life with coffee spoons,” comes to mind. Or maybe this is that classic case of not wanting something, but feeling that you should want it.
And yet, the truth is I really don’t care about climbing all of North America’s highest peaks or driving in the Indy 500. I didn’t care about those things when I was 25. (I did drive a Formula 1 car once.) I would like to know Russian, because it would be fun to read Dostoevsky in the original, but I don’t care enough to put in the years of work it would take to learn Russian and get beyond The Three Little Pigskis. A friend of mine has run with the bulls in Pamplona three times and escaped ungored, but tell you the truth, I’m happy just hearing him tell me about it.
As for exotic travel, well, yes, I’d like to see Antarctica before it all melts away, but this is not something you can do on a weekend with Southwest Airlines. And I’d like to see the sunken hulk of the Titanic, but ditto, and God knows what the expedition would cost.
So many of these things remind me of that old British gentleman who said that he’d love to see China as long as he could be back by suppertime. Or, as someone else put it, many things are worth seeing, but not worth going to see. So, for now, my Life List remains mundane–a poor thing but mine own, I guess.