Forget the Stupid Bucket List and Just Say 'F#@* It!" 5 Things I Will Probably Never Do
“You’re never gonna climb a mountain.”
When I heard that phrase on the TV show Desperate Housewives I was taken aback by its sting. The context was a couple cleaning out their garage, the husband wanting to keep some decades-old, unopened mountain climbing gear. “You get winded just climbing out of the tub,” she says. “You’re never gonna climb a mountain.”
My jaw dropped in a way it wouldn’t have if she’d murdered him with the grappling hook. In positive thinking, make-every-moment-count, Oprah-says-to-live-your-best-life-America you never tell anyone their dreams aren’t going to happen. You make with the false hope and expect the same when you say you’re going to reclaim your virginity or knit some kale or whatever the kids are doing these days.
But frankly all the "make-every-moment-count," and other emotional fluff just gets exhausting and depressing, especially if you’re so financially zapped you feel lucky you have a place to live, never mind climb mountains. After all, Heather Hansam of Outside Online reported last year that climbing Mt. Everest can cost a minimum of $30,000; closer to home, Alpine Ascents puts the land cost of a Denali expedition at $7300.
Making a bucket list can make you feel kind of lousy if you can barely afford a bucket.
That’s why, right here in the middle of International Enthusiasm Week, I’m proposing we turn our attention to the concept of the Fuck It list, for those mountains you just aren’t going to climb.
Google “Fuck it list,” and you’ll find various blogs and even a Fuck It List journal devoted to the things you’re never going to do. It's clear that a lot of people are sick of being bullied by optimism.
Being pummeled with happy images doesn’t make us feel happier either; in fact, a 2012 study from Utah Valley University showed that those hap-hap-happy pictures and posts everyone puts up on Facebook make us sad because we don’t feel as giddy as our friends appear to. To make matters worse, a lot of those posts and images are carefully tailored because people only show their good sides and best times.
This is probably why saying “Fuck it,” feels so good. Facades are heavy, intentions often burdensome, and dropping them can be a relief, can make us feel in control and can provide a nice, vinegary palate cleanser to the tiresome sweetness of cliched optimism.
Here, for example, are Fuck Its of mine; some big, some small, all in great need of dead-heading so that maybe some other things can grow.
1. I probably won’t be in anthologies of “Best Sex Writing” and “Best American Travel Writing” in the same year. I’ve been in the first one and hope one day to be in the second. Both in one year might be something you just can’t plan for, but has to just fall into your lap, like true love or herpes.
2. I’ll never fix anything I buy at a garage sale. How many unraveling wicker chairs have to grow moldy in my possession before I admit that the only thing I’ll ever fix is my hair?
3. I’m not going to learn every language I hear. A peek into my iTunes reveals downloaded audio instruction for about six languages. But the only thing I've every become fluent in is indecision.
4. I’m never going to have Shakira’s midriff. Even if Drs. Nassif and Dubrow, the plastic surgery partners from Botched, worked on me until they both grew ZZ Top beards they couldn’t give me abs that look like caramel-colored sand dunes. What chance do I have with nothing but hope and a gym membership?
5. I’m also never going to stop trying. Like Andy Dufresne tunneling his way out of Shawshank, I poke along, doing my little gym workouts, eating a little better and just trying to be healthier every year. I’m never going to think I’m perfect and will forever be tweaking something. As long as self-improvement doesn’t veer into self-destruction, I have no problem with my egotistical OCD.
Actually it’s just about that mix of high and low expectations that are part of the equation of happiness…and yes, someone did the math. David DeSalvo, writing in Forbes magazine, reports that researchers from University College London came up with an actual equation that predicts happiness. One thing they found was that both low and high expectations play into that feeling. If your expectations are low and the outcome exceeds them you’re bound to be happily surprised, but just happily looking forward to something, like seeing a friend, can elevate your happiness.
Balance. Who’da thunk it?
So next time you can’t take another smiley face or you want to feel like every moment of your life already counts, try balancing out some of those big hopes with a few Fuck Its. After all, forever looking on the bright side could make you feel a little blind.