Peter Kane – Relationship Theorist and author "The Monogamy Challenge"

What Does Your Bucket Hold?

Talk of the “Bucket List” seems to have increased in recent years. I feel that our focus may be overly tied to consumption or the cool experiences we should want before we die. I sometimes hear this as similar to “she who dies with the most toys wins.” While I feel that collecting experiences may be healthier to collecting things, I still choose to question: Is the common notion of The Bucket List in alignment with our real natures as evolving humans? If I had a year to live what would I do? What is it that really fulfills me?

I like the question what would I do if I had a year to live because it helps me focus on my deepest priorities. I also like to question what would I do if I won the lottery? I think it has similar benefits – what would I focus on if money and security were of less concern. I noticed long ago that my main answer is that I would more clearly follow my heart, my creativity, passions, and love. I have since used the fantasy of winning the lottery to see and feel if I am living my truest purpose. I have felt that I ideally should be doing what I would do if I won the lottery. This helps me focus on that path without waiting for the financial security of winning the lottery.

Regardless of your situation, ask yourself, what would you do if you were truly free? What would you do if you had a year to live? Ask these questions from the more materialistic, consumption-based, or ‘bucket list’ perspective. Think of that list and ask yourself: What identity do these things fulfill? Who is it that would be doing these things? I am suggesting that they would partly be fulfilling a more ego-based identity that is trying to prove our worth by possessing something. Is the purpose of your life to accumulate things and pleasures?

What I have continually felt and preferred to feel is that if I felt truly free I would focus on doing my best with what I have to contribute to the world, more than I would worry about what I could get from the world. I understand this may be a little different for me because I view my career as service-based and I love my work. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone. Being a teacher and counselor is also one of the greatest contributions I am capable of making. But I think everyone cares about their gifts and contributions. Notice that most people are motivated to work hard for their family and friends. Working for society is just one step further on the same continuum.

I believe we have a human need to contribute and that even our ego has the need to create value. I am suggesting that we care about what we contribute and the legacy of what we leave behind. This is not as simple as committing to more service projects. I have long noticed that service can be done with the egos need to be special or it can be done with our need to live a life of integrity and sound structure. Service helps us work with many deep issues: it can be a way to feel our own abundance; express our need to connect and cooperate with others; and service helps us let go of scarcity and competition.IMG_0649

What the bucket list questions have given me is the awareness that if I had a year to live, the main thing I would do is write my next book. They have also helped me continue to work hard and live passionately to contribute to my family and to society. They have helped me realize the deeper meaning of my efforts and feel more freedom as I continue to express my purpose in the world.

If I had a year to live I would wonder: Have I done what I can? Have I done what I do? I would write because it is a major aspect of me sharing my best. My teaching is what I have to offer. It is what I can lay down as I walk, or leave here if I were to walk away.

I wrote a poem entitled “The Bucket List,” here is one of my favorite stanzas from it:

Real security can not be                                                                                             Accomplished or found                                                                                                                    It can only be left behind                                                                                                                 In the gifts we give                                                                                                                        And leave to grow                                                                                                                             In others hearts

That said, I have no plans to walk away. I note this because another problem with the “Bucket List” is that takes us further into our deathist fantasies instead of choosing to live this life. Doing what we care about now helps break this deathist fantasy cycle and be more present here now. It helps us live a life worth living and we then move forward with greater commitment, joy and passion.

By deathist, I mean all the negatives we hold (mostly subconscious) that stem from the belief in death or the desire to die. Death is the ultimate escape from our stresses in life. I will elaborate more about what I mean by deathist another time. But I will add for now that many of my complaints about politicians and world leaders are based on my hearing them only investing in the short term. While they talk about creating a sustainable world, they are not actually looking forward for future generations. I recently saw an oil company advertisement that spoke of “a 100 years of energy.” How could they say this as if 100 years of energy is enough? This is part of a deathist mentality. The world needs our investments and contributions, and it will support us if we let go of focusing on what we can take from it.

To our footprints, both past and future.


Here is the full poem entitled The Bucket List.


  1. I am an addict for knowing God’s love. If I had “a year to live,” I would spend a whole hour on God right now instead of intermittently include Him/her right now in conversation and experience.

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