When people are asked what they would like to accomplish or do before they die, most people state the conventional “go to the moon”, “skydive”, or “travel around the world.” But why are these activities so impactful or interesting to people? Are these actions different from normal play or do they fit a different criteria? Do they really make one feel content with their lives?
- Play is free
- Play is not “ordinary”
- Play is distinct from “ordinary” life
- Play creates order
- Play is connected with no material interest
These goals are free, especially not ordinary, stay away from ordinary tasks, create order and peace in people, and are accomplished for a bigger purpose than martial gains. So, are bucket lists really just ways for people to truly play before they die?
Bernard Suits in The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia believes that playing is a central part of the “ideal of [human] existence”. Bucket lists not only solidify this idea, but also clarify this notion. Suits notes that playing is a necessary part of life and without life as an “ideal is either incomplete or impossible”. Bucket lists fill this void that Suits is alluding to.
Many people assume a “bucket list” is accomplishments that give your live purpose, satisfaction, and closure; however, a “bucket list” is much more. A bucket list can motivate people towards goals that otherwise feel irrelevant. Several goals on my bucket list are to make an impact on the world, to influence someone’s life, and to be happy.
Even though these goals are not specific and do not truly describe play, they all give the same effects that games or playing give to a person. Many people pass away without making any contribution or impact on society and the world. To me, this is a life wasted. Whether people have a purpose on this planet or not, everyone to some extent should impact the world. Developing a new technology that changes transportation forever, leading a movement that upstarts a new political ideology, or progressing the education in this country through innovation and novelty, we can all influence the world. This important part on my “list” will not only motivate me towards advancement, but also influence the world around me. Like “leveling up” in a game or in GradeCraft or practicing a sport, this goal is a way to continue to improve and truly develop a passion.
The most prominent way one can put their mark on this planet is influence. Remembrance for my life is the most important thing that I wish to accomplish. Whether I change the lives of many or aided to a few, my main goal in life is to progress and advance not only myself but also the people around me. Life is much more than just taking care of yourself, and an influence on someone’s life is a crucial aspect of “life.” Play requires the collaboration of other people and creates a place for teamwork. Whether on a team sport or playing a board game with your sibling, games are influenced by everyone playing and that’s how life should be.
Happiness is an overlooked emotion by many people. For many, money, power, and family bring this sensation. When asked on the deathbed what many people’s biggest regret was, most people say they “wished they were more happy.” Life is about the moments and happiness should be a regular part of these moments. Happiness brightens our lives and adds hues to monotony. Overall, happiness gives a sense of fulfillment in life. Instead of focusing on petty drama or meaningless social ranks, you will look at the larger picture, which is very much essential to lead a meaningful life. A bucket list should not be finished right before your death, but throughout your life. This is the only way you can feel content and gratified. Like Suits’s novel, a balance between your play (goals) and work will help find meaning in your life.
Whether your bucket list is vague, like mine, or specific and descriptive, bucket lists have a strong correlation to playing . As we have learned in this class, playing can be many different activities or have many definitions. Likewise, I think that bucket lists truly help people understand why play is such an important part of life and accordingly, death.