"Things To Do Before You Die" lists are intended to remind us that "life is precious", and that we should "live each day to it's fullest, lest we die unhappy". Obviously this is easier said than done, and as such, many people often dismiss these sorts of sentiments as meaningless, idealistic garbage. But this may be somewhat unfair. If one did wish to begin the journey towards enlightenment, I can think of no better path than one which begins by mindlessly taking part in a number of broadly defined feel-good clichés as suggested a list compiled by unimaginative Chicken Soup For The Soul lovers who have recently become motivational speakers and are also high on ecstasy.
These lists are also known as "Bucket Lists", a term which was popularized by the 2007 film of the same name. A film which, might I add, was so utterly insipid, saccharine, and melodramatic that I myself was only able to get through the first 5 minute of it before slipping into a diabetic coma, from which I emerged 12 years later, no worse for the wear, and yet puzzlingly unrefreshed.
So it was with great trepidation that I began my research into the actual bucket lists themselves. My quest: To find 10 of the most offensively stupid items which are often included on bucket lists. Here are the results.
1. PARTICIPATE IN BURNING MAN
There is a saying which is popular amongst Burning Man attendees which goes: “Trying to explain Burning Man to someone who has never been is like trying to explain color to a blind person." This sentence can be viewed as a microcosm of the festival itself, as it appears, on the surface, to be extremely deep and philosophical, but upon closer examination reveals itself to be nothing more than a cheap veneer of new-age bullshit which, when chipped away, reveals absolutely nothing of use to anyone whose frontal lobes have not been bludgeoned into a useless new-age paste due to the aggressive abuse of psychoactive substances.
Fail to bathe for a month. Then eat a 10 caps of psilocybin and sit in a deserted lot for 8 days listening to shitty psych-rock on a boombox while expounding on the perils of affordable tract housing, genetically modified corned-beef, and non-sustainable agriculture.
2. WRITE A BOOK
Where did this moronic idea come from that everyone on earth has to write a book at some point? Did it ever occur to these people that not everyone is cut out to be an author? And while certainly there are cases in which AN ASTOUNDINGLY AWFUL WRITER WITH ABSOLUTELY NOTHING INTERESTING TO SAY ABOUT THE WORLD SOMEHOW MANAGES TO GET PUBLISHED AND BECOMES A HUGE SUCCESS, more often then not, a book written by someone who has never written anything in their life is going to be tossed straight into a recycling bin by publishers.
The reality of it is that for an inexperienced person to write a novel which is even halfway decent is going to require thousands upon thousands of hours of very hard work which in all likelihood will result in nothing more than a number of pleasant rejection letters from soon-to-be bankrupt publishers and many uncomfortable "Yeah, It was...good." from charitable relatives whom you guilted into reading your manuscript and they did and even though they told you it was good they secretly thought it was pretty awful but what are they gonna say because they don't want to hurt your feelings or anything.
Cheaper, More Effective AlternativeStart your own blog. It's free, far less time-consuming, it's all fancy and high-tech, and I can promise you that more people will read it (hundreds, as opposed to tens). Of course, you still won't become a success, and you definitely won't be seeing any money from it any time soon. But it'll definitely weed out the people who actually ENJOY writing from the "I set out to write my crimefighting dragons novel four years ago in MS Word and quit after 16 pages because I got bored, but I'll finish it one day, you'll see" crowd.
3. WAKE UP ON A BEACH
The authors of this suggestion don't go into specifics, so I'm just gonna go ahead and assume that the time that I woke up nude on a Hunduran beach covered in blood with a paring knife clutched in my hand qualifies as a life-affirming event. I never did figure out where that backpack full of severed hands came from, but it was still a hard way to learn the lesson that Mescal isn't quite the same thing as Mescaline.
Unnecessarily Cruel Alternative
Go to sleep on a beach. In other words: If you were stupid enough to think one of these ridiculous lists could actually make a difference in your life, do the world a favor and drown yourself.
4. HELP OUT AT A SOUP KITCHEN
There are few easier ways to assuage the indistinct guilt which often comes from seeing those around you suffer while you squander your life at a soulless job in pursuit of an arbitrary concept of success characterized by an adherence to tradition and the stockpiling of consumer goods. By spending half an hour working at a soup kitchen and then never coming back, you can be assured at least one or two hours of something approaching emotional contentment. The smell might not be the greatest, but hey: At least you don't have to touch them.
More Efficient AlternativeToss a handful of change at a homeless man from a moving vehicle while listening to Paul Simon.
5. GO BACKPACKING THROUGH EUROPE
Let's face it: A Pleasant & Socially Obligatory Trip Through The First World Countries Most Closely Resembling The United States Aside From Canada is only going to be a "life changing experience" for the blandest white people on earth. But hey, if all you're looking for is a chance to sleep in 1-3 star hotels and then come back to the US and jabber endlessly to your "less worldly" friends about how "the train system over there is far superior to anything we have here", then by all means, pack up your things and go. I'm sure nobody is gonna miss you around here.
I honestly can't think of a more ridiculous dream to have. I hope your cosmopolitan ass gets robbed by gypsies. Now get lost.
NOTICE: It is important not to confuse "I am going to take a fun trip to Europe and have fun" with "let's go on a backpacking EXCURSION through Europe while sporting fashionably unkempt beards, sipping daintily from our SIGG water bottles, and wearing socks with sandals", as the latter is deeply offensive on a molecular while the former is nearly acceptable.
More Daring AlternativeGo backpacking through Colombia. Carpe diem, right? If you're truly looking for a life-changing experience, then a hike through the most violent and dangerous country in the known world is just what the doctor ordered. As far as I'm concerned, having your jugular sawed open by a group of paramilitary guerrillas builds far more character than an overnight stay in some porn-smelling German youth hostel in Schoeningen.
6. BLOW A MONTH'S WAGES ON SHOES
Celebrate the beauty of life by squandering an exorbitant amount of money on offensively overpriced commercial goods? I see no problem with this. Carry on.
Humanitarian AlternativePurchase a small, starving Ethiopian child and ride around on him for a day. Then crush his skull with a Macbook Pro.
7. CONNECT WITH YOUR OLD TEACHERS & LET THEM KNOW HOW THEY HAVE SHAPED YOUR LIFE
Ah yes, that old "Things To Do Before You Die" staple: Wistful and idealistic bullshit. Look, I'm not saying that teachers can't make a difference to a kid, I'm sure they can. But who, in their right mind is going to call up a teacher and do this? Oh wait, I know: A raging narcissist.
Yeah, I'm sure Old Mr. Fonsworth is going to get a real thrill out of hearing that you've managed to score the sweet Financial Operations Manager gig down at Northwestern Mutual. And to think it was all because of that worksheet he gave you on the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1998, section 590C. I guess teachers really can make a difference!
More Timely AlternativeStart your own shitty website and thank your teachers on there instead. Sounds good to me! Here:
Mr. I Can't Even Remember Your NameYou revealed to me the ancient art of "coasting". The way you carelessly assigned us ream upon ream of pointless busywork, had us take turns reading aloud from the textbook so you didn't have to do anything, and somehow justified allowing us to watch The Matrix in economics class was an inspiration to us all.
Mrs. WickstromYou taught me that shrill, frigid, mentally deranged fundamentalist Christian harpies should not become high school teachers. Thanks for placing so many of us on the path towards secularism, you emaciated succubus.
Mr. KuntzYou reminded me constantly that I could not draw for shit, inspiring me to drop out of the college animation program and pursue a career in the lucrative field of Fucking Around In Dead-End Jobs.
Mr. AndersonYou revealed to me that no matter how great of a teacher you might be, you can do little to change the fact that high school math is a torturous exercise in futility, and that 90% of your students will forget all of what you have forced them to memorize moments after graduating.
Ms. PascoeYou had a terrifying nervous breakdown in class, hurling your keys across the room and cutting up my shoulder. You then began to cry and followed me to the principal's office so you could beg them not to fire you. You showed me just how valuable maintaining your strict regimen of antipsychotics and antidepressants can be when you work with children.
8. DRAW ON A WALL
Life-affirming vandalism. That's a new one. But believe it or not, this was in fact suggested a number of times across the many bucket lists I browsed. Apparently there's a large crossover between the pretentious assholes who publish bucket lists and the guys who think it's hilarious to scratch "DICK" into the toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom at an inner-city Burger King. Seems about right to me.
Similarly Intentioned AlternativesDamage a stranger's car and fail to leave a note. Punch a hole in your neighbor's siding with a golf ball and fail to tell them. Casually litter. Feign racism to avoid jury duty. Honk and swerve angrily at a slow driver. Steal a sign from a national park.
9. "TOUCH" A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL FAMILY
I really enjoy the way this is phrased. It isn't "Shake hands with a member of the royal family", it's more like you're just supposed to fondle them in any way you possibly can. So what's, then, are our options? Suckle the Duke of York's earlobe during a charity golf tournament? Grope The Countess of Wessex on the subway? Sneak into a press event attended by the queen, pretend to fall, and grab two handfuls of hogan? If you say so.
I'm not saying these things are necessarily a bad idea, but it's always been my experience that if the motive behind an act of gross sexual misconduct is impure, then the act itself will be wholly unsatisfying. These sorts of actions should be born out of a misplaced obsession with celebrity coupled with an intensely acute bout of sexual frustration, and possibly mental illness. To believe you can manufacture such things simply by reading the idea off a list is almost obscene.
Americanized AlternativeCelebrities are the royalty here. Even washed up ones. Break in to John Travolta's house and gently stroke his backhair while he sleeps.
10. GO SKYDIVING
And of course, no "Things To Do Before You Die" list would be complete without a mention of skydiving. For reasons I cannot possibly fathom, skydiving has become the de-facto stand in for "crazy activity you do to feel alive", and as such has been included on every single bucket list written since 1984, placing it high in the running for "most hackneyed life-affirming action on earth".
It is also needlessly dangerous, regardless of what you may have been told. Skydiving apologists enjoy pointing out that someone who makes one jump a year has only a 1 in 100,000 chance of dying while skydiving. While this may sound low, I would just like to point out that it is no nearly as low as the probability that a person who never skydives has of dying in a skydiving accident, which, I would assume, hovers somewhere around ZERO percent.
But then again, as a person who finds riding a bicycle down a steep hill at a high rate of speed to hold an unacceptable level of risk, I am obviously not the target demographic for skydiving, and so do not feel qualified to comment on the stupidity or relative dangerousness of skydiving at this time. However, I DO feel more than qualified to comment on idea of constantly including skydiving on "Things To Do Before You Die" Lists: Stop it, you idiots.
Marginally Safer AlternativePop four Valiums, two Adderall, and ride a rollercoaster with your eyes closed. Then experience a seizure and die, due to the fact that one of the Valiums was actually sodium phosphate (a drug which is indicated for cleansing of the colon as a preparation for colonoscopy, and may, in rare cases interact violently with amphetamines).
If only you'd gone skydiving instead...
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