I’m a list maker. Sticky notes litter my life with lists of things to do, things to remember, thought provoking quotes, people to pray for. Lists that weigh you down, lists that attempt to make order of the chaos. The lists of things undone, unseen, unaccomplished that tug at me.
DirtBag Darling introduced me to the concept of the ‘Reverse Bucket List”. The list that allows you to chill out. To appreciate the lists checked off, the lists of what you have seen, of what you have done. It’s not a new idea – Ann Voskamp defined it as the “1000 gifts” list. The act of “Giving thanks is what gets you joy.” It’s not the next step on your bucket list that makes you happy it’s the gratefulness for the step you’ve already taken that makes you happy. It’s the heart changing, sight restored concept of abandoning the “Ill give thanks when I’m happy” and embracing the “If you want to be happy —give thanks.” A daily intentionality of making lists of the gifts we’ve passed over while focusing on the gifts we’re chasing.
While living in San Diego, I was thrown into a community of people who had graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University. Never before had I met so many well-traveled people in one place. By graduation these men and women had been to a minimum of five countries, through study abroad programs and missions trips. My world shrank fast in their presence; I suddenly became uncultured, and sheltered. Whether by my competitive nature, or the injustice of comparison my travels appeared inconsequential even to me when they repeated for the third time, “You haven’t been outside the United States?”
I was recently offered a place to stay for the summer if I wanted to take a trip to Italy. Italy has been the dream destination for as long as I can remember. With a name like Marchetti and family still in the old country, I long to get lost in the people, the food and the hills of Tuscany and Florence.
I turned it down.
Not because I don’t ache to be in Italy but because I have scrimped and saved this last year by living at home, working a resume padding, passionless job in a windowless office. I’ve done this so that I could have money in a savings account. So that when a door opened for me to take a job I’m passionate about, I could go. Seth Godin so adequately explains what I had tried to convey to those who questioned my decision. “Instead of wondering where your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
This community of people, think nothing of quitting their jobs and taking off for months at a time to play in foreign countries. Unaffected by the fact that when you set aside your real life, it may not be so easy to pick up again. For me, being ok with my reality is so much more important to me than a trip. To jeopardize my real life, in order to take a vacation isn’t worth it for me. This means I’ve seen fewer places, this also means I can recognize the grandeur within my own life. Travel, see the world, but remember to see the daily reality with the same searching eyes, and bated breath. They have had some incredible adventures, been to delightful places – and it saddens me to think that coming home might be a disappointment. That home is a letdown when you have established a routine of only being awestruck on vacation. Ann Voskamp told a story that I never forgot in book 1000 Gifts:
“I remember once sitting at the hairdresser’s. The woman beside me reads, and I read her title in the reflection of the mirror: 1000 Places to See Before You Die. Is that it? Are there physical places that simply must be seen before I stop breathing within time, before I inhale eternity?
Why? To say that I’ve had reason to bow low? To say that I’ve seen beauty? To say that I’ve been arrested by wonder? Isn’t it here? Can’t I find it here?
Isn’t it here? The wonder? Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it? Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur? The very same surging magnificence that cascades over our every day here. Who has time or eyes to notice?
[But] wonder really could be here- for the seeing eyes.” -Ann Voskamp
Our reality, our daily lives need to be filled with giving thanks for the unexpected grandeur here. The miraculous beneath our feet, rather than the neck crick gaze upwards of all we have yet to do.
And I go still and watch the “Seven Wonders” shift, and change, and rearrange in my own life. A daily rewriting of the definition of wonder, and what makes that list. The seven wonders of the world become what I know to be wonderful:
Snowboarding Big Sky’s Bridger Bowl while living in Bozeman. Learning to surf on Sunset Cliffs while living in San Diego. Riding horses daily across lush pasture under oak tree canopies. Exploring the back country of Yosemite, hiking to the places where the clouds rest, while growing up in Cathey’s Valley. Water skiing in Lake Tahoe, biking the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, and kayaking the Klamath River.
A reverse bucket list, one thousand gifts, “seven wonders of the world” redefined – all exemplify a heart of thankfulness, that flows deep and wide bubbling with happy.
There is much I haven’t seen, yet it is well with my soul.