Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Bucket List

For Valentines day Ron and I went to see the movie, "The Bucket List," a touching, no-holds-barred adventure that shows it's never too late to live life to its fullest. It is a story about two men dying of terminal cancer. It revolved around Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) who a long time ago, during his freshman year philosophy class, the professor suggested that his students compose a "bucket list," a collection of all the things they wanted to do, see and experience in life before they kicked the bucket. But while Carter was still trying to define his private dreams and plans, reality intruded. Marriage, children, myriad responsibilities and, ultimately, a 46-year job as an auto mechanic gradually turned his concept of a bucket list into little more than a bittersweet memory of lost opportunities and a mental exercise he occasionally thought about to pass the time while working under the hood of a car. Meanwhile, corporate billionaire Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) never saw a list without a bottom line. He was always too busy making money and building an empire to think about what his deeper needs might be beyond the next big acquisition or cup of gourmet coffee. Then life delivered an urgent and unexpected wake-up call to both of them. Carter and Edward found themselves sharing a hospital room with plenty of time to think about what might happen next--and about how much of that was in their hands. For all their apparent differences, they soon discovered they had two very important things in common: an unrealized need to come to terms with who they were and the choices they'd made, and a pressing desire to spend the time they had left doing everything they ever wanted to do. The list wasn't just a mental exercise anymore. It was an agenda. So, against doctor's orders and all good sense, these two virtual strangers check themselves out of the hospital and hit the road together for the adventure of a lifetime--from the Taj Mahal to the Serengeti, the finest restaurants to the seediest tattoo parlors, the cockpit of vintage race cars to the open door of a prop plane--with just a sheet of paper and their passion for life to guide them. Adding and crossing items off their list while taking in the grandeur and beauty of the world, they will grapple with the difficult questions and the even more difficult answers that plague all of us. And, without even realizing it, become true friends. With humor, insight, heart...and a fair amount of attitude. Sometimes you just need a deadline to get your life in gear. One moment in the movie that remained with me was when Carter relayed to Edward while sitting atop a pyramid in Egypt that before someone is allowed to enter the Egyptian heaven the deceased must answer two questions. Have you had joy in your life and did you bring joy to others? I thought about the questions and knew that I had indeed had joy in my life and only needed to think of my two daughters. My first response to the second question was I hope so. Then I thought about it again and realized that perhaps just the sheer fact of my birth brought joy to my own parents and how fortunate I am to know that with more than a fair amount of certainty.

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