“Carpe Deim,” Horace said. Seize the Day.
He had a point. Today, I’d like to tell you a personal story. If you’ve hung around here much, you know I don’t do that too often (or, at least, I hope I don’t), so I ask that you indulge me.
Quite a few years ago, I spent a semester as an exchange student in Costa Rica. My informal course of study focused primarily on beaches and boys, but that’s beside the point. While visiting Cahuita, a crystal-clear beach on the Caribbean coast, I purchased a bottle of the most wonderful, pure coconut oil. The fact that we were still using suntan oil, rather than sunscreen, gives you an indication of just how many years ago this was!
The fragrance was amazing—fresh coconuts! It was aromatherapy as much as suntan oil and—I concluded—much too valuable to waste on mundane trips to the beach. So I saved it all through my semester in Costa Rica. And I continued to save it after I returned, carrying it with me as I moved to Memphis, Dallas, Phoenix, and Albuquerque. When I unpacked it for the fifth time upon arriving in Tucson, I decided maybe it was time to use it. I uncapped my wonderful, fragrant oil to find—as you can probably guess—it had turned horribly rancid.
Many of us have our own versions of this story. What about those candles that were too beautiful to burn—at least until they spent a summer in storage and emerged melted beyond recognition? Or that expensive jar of face cream that sat on the shelf until its contents separated? Even fine crystal, while not exactly going “bad” buried away in the dark recesses of our cabinets, certainly has its beauty wasted if it’s not out on the table where it can be appreciated and enjoyed.
In his landmark book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scot Peck wrote that delaying gratification is a sign of maturity. It’s an important lesson, but one that I’m afraid some of us have learned all too well. I blame it on my Puritan ancestry…you can choose your own excuse. I don’t mean to imply that we should all operate with a childish lack of restraint, but in some ways we are a very future-focused society, stranded on that infamous “Someday Isle.” Someday I’ll travel, build that dream house, or _________ (you fill in the blank). Too often, we put our lives on hold for some beautiful fantasy day in the future that may—or may not—ever arrive. And in the meantime, the sands are slipping through the hourglass of our lives.
We all have dreams–or did at one time. As Langston Hughes put is so well, “Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”
And that’s where the Bucket List comes in.