Kicking The Bucket List

Last year I hit a big milestone in my life, but now that I think about it, I believe I overlooked something. A year ago, I turned 40. My wife threw me a great party with lots of food and friends, but it wasn’t until a recent conversation with my doctor where we discussed hereditary medical conditions that a question came to mind.  If most of the men in my family don’t live past 80, then when exactly am I supposed to have my mid-life crisis?

I’m the type of person who likes to plan ahead, but at this point, I’m unsure not only what year would be an appropriate age to start, but what, precisely, I’m supposed to do. I never really wanted a sports car, I shave my head, so I don’t have to worry about dying any grey hair, and I’m way too lazy to try to recapture my youth by skydiving or bungee jumping (besides, I didn’t really enjoy my youth all that much the first time around, so why the heck would I want to try to recapture it?).

I’ve also been pretty goal-oriented in my life, so just about everything on my "bucket list" has already been accomplished. I’ve visited other countries, I learned how to fly a plane and ride a motorcycle, and, just after my 40th birthday, I completed one of the hardest goals I ever set for myself: I completed a full Olympic-distance triathlon.

So now what? I guess I could go back to school to get another degree, but to what end? It would be kind of cool to learn how to play an instrument, but why torture my wife? There’s no way I’m going through the training necessary to do another triathlon, so maybe I should think marathon. Then again, maybe not.

From what I’ve heard, having a mid-life crisis is all about confronting the sobering reality that there are more years behind you than are left ahead. But, just like when Congress announces another stimulus plan, to me, the numbers just don’t add up. Sure, I might not have another 40 years ahead of me, but it’s not like I was really getting full market value out of the 40 I’ve already put in the books.

Either I’m in full-blown denial here, or maybe I’m on to something. After all, I don’t even remember the first few years of my life, and it’s not like I had all that much control over things for the ones after that. Outside of a few highlights here and there, my high school years were pretty normal, and it took me a couple of years in college to get my feet wet. So I can easily make the case that, regardless of age, I’ve really only been living for about 20 years. So in essence, I’ve actually got twice as many years to look forward to as to look back upon.

But probably the real reason I don’t see the need for any "crisis" is because I don’t measure my individual success or failure against a pre-determined checklist. I’ve always tried to live my life to the fullest, but to do that, my focus has, first and foremost, been on the opportunities God has presented me and not the circumstances I’ve created for myself. In essence, I submit myself to God’s bucket list.

To the best of my knowledge I don’t think God gave me the talent to play in the major leagues, the intelligence to cure cancer or the patience or wisdom to secure world peace. But that’s not to say that my life is falling short of expectations. My life is comfortable, my marriage is strong, and my family is provided for, and most importantly, I feel that I’ve answered the call when and where God has prompted me.

As the United States approaches mid-term elections this fall, the topic of many news shows essentially discusses President Obama’s mid-presidential-life crisis. And the question is basically, "Can he accomplish his personal Commander-in-Chief bucket list?". The question is the same for just about every elected official. But just like in my life, I think the real answer has more to do with how you form the question.

As a Christian, my life is either a success or a failure based on God’s criteria, not man’s. And as an elected official, history will judge success or failure against their service to the people, not the achievement of any personal agenda. It all boils down to who you choose to serve: yourself or others. Our government was established as a republic, not a democracy. We elect people to represent our wishes, not decide what those wishes should be.

As I begin the second half of my life, I stand confident in my ability to meet the opportunities presented to me and willing to accept the challenges bestowed upon me. And I know that if I stay focused on what God has called me to do, I will not regret the outcome of my life. As our elected officials face similar situations in their respective terms, I hope they also realize that their success or failure is wholly determined by whose bucket list they choose to serve.

Read More on Perspective
Volume 6, Issue 19, Posted 8:25 AM, 09.22.2010