The idea behind the Bucket List comes from the movie Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson that was out in 2007. Merriam Webster describes a bucket list as: “a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying.” Obviously the idea caught on and has had everybody talking while checking off items on their personal ‘bucket list.’
Have you actually sat down and created a bucket list?
I have not; however, in my mind, I know places I want to go, things I want to do, and people I’d like to meet all of which would be considered a part of my “Bucket List.” However, a recent trip to Alaska started making me shift my perspective about bucket lists.
Why? Because Alaska was not really ever on my bucket list. Sure, I know lots of tourists who have taken Alaskan cruises or tours and absolutely loved them. They all said the same thing—”It’s breathtaking, has beautiful views, AND…it’s cold or overcast or rains a lot in the summer.”
Being from the Northeast, I’m very familiar with cold, overcast, rainy so, why would I spend A LOT of money to go somewhere that’s cold and dreary when I can spend money to go someplace sunny, with sandy beaches, warm aquamarine waters, and palm trees?
And yet here I recently found myself in Alaska. And…I LOVED it! Amidst the sub-zero temps and the daily snow and icy roads, Alaska was a gorgeous winter wonderland.
It was every wintry Christmas song dreaming of a white Christmas and sleigh rides and letting it snow (and baby it IS definitely cold outside). And, it was peacefully beautiful. It was like a quiet hush fell over the landscape and covered the earth with this stark white blanket that glistened and sparkled. It’s like walking into a Hallmark movie setting (with a variety of plot twists) but without the mistletoe.
We walked through the Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska and visited with Santa and Mrs. Clause. We walked over to Antler Academy and visited Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Rudolph didn’t make an appearance; however, I’m sure he wasn’t far away (wink).
We drove to Denali National Park as a snowstorm was closing in on us. Although the storm clouds covered the tallest peaks, the views were stunningly majestic. There were no crowds or traffic to contend with, just the majesty and beauty of nature – God’s amazing creation.
We visited dog mushers and pet the lean, panting, sled dogs that were friendly and happy to be a part of the pack to take tourists through the forests and winter wonderland. We met a young girl who had participated in the Iditarod for Juniors.
We chased the sunrises that occurred between 9:45 and 10:15 am and then set again between 3:15 and 3:45 pm to chase the colorful sunsets. A camera lens could not capture the awesomeness of our Master artist.
We checked the Aurora Borealis Tracker daily to find out if the skies would be clear enough to catch sightings of the Northern Lights. It was the one disappointment that we weren’t able to experience during our stay. And, it was the one thing that I would say was on my bucket list (if I had one that is) if ever I did visit Alaska.
Of course, we had to find the Alaskan Pipeline to say we saw it. We went, we saw and we have a picture to show.
We became like the locals and ate in locals places and drove off the beaten path to see the sights and to take it all in.
This trip taught me so much about the reality of our bucket lists. Are we limiting what’s out there by only focusing on checking off what we have on our lists?
We flew from Fairbanks, Alaska to Seattle, Washington and as our plane took off from Seattle heading toward home, the sunrise had just happened. As the plane started ascending, I looked out the window (If I can, I always get a window seat—I want to take in the views!) and WOW – I saw the sun rising next to the beautiful snow-covered Mount Rainier. Talk about a stunning site. As the airplane turned, I was unfortunately on the opposite side of the plane and could not snap a photo from my window seat. I looked across the aisle and coveted that side of the plane’s seats. I watched in amazement that the people near us on that side of the plane were either focused on their devices or closed the window curtain. Yes CLOSED it as the most beautiful majestic view was right next to them!
I’m not judging them. Maybe they’ve seen it several times. For me, I was grateful to have had those peaks of that sight and, although I don’t have a physical picture of that view, I do have the mental one that is stored in my memory.
All this to share this adventure with you, and my question is:
What are we missing when we make a bucket list?
My experience in Alaska, made me realize that I don’t even know what to include on my bucket list. We don’t know what we are missing when we are glued to our devices or watching shows that tell us the top 10 places to go or things to do before we die. We may be limiting what’s out there by making a bucket list instead of living and observing the wonder and awe of every little thing.
I saved my absolute favorite part of our trip to Alaska for last. And that is the reason we even went in the first place. Our son.
I will never forget the day I received the text from him with one word: ALASKA. We had been waiting for a few weeks to hear where the United States Army was sending him after Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training. I must admit, I was hoping and praying it would be Hawaii because that is more of my kind of landscape. Alaska to me was the opposite.
Yet, when we arrived at Fort Wainwright and then spent time in the Fairbanks area, we were very grateful for the amazing opportunity.
We were thankful that God had sent our soldier exactly where He needs him to be. If, for nothing more than to open all of our eyes to never limiting ourselves with lists when we have a God who directs our steps.
We have a God who has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.
We have a God who can move mountains.
We have a God who performs miracles—have you looked at the beauty of His creation today?
What I realized is that through this trip, I saw things that I never knew to add to my bucket list.
I had no way of knowing that Fort Wainwright, Alaska would need to be a must-see (especially for families with soldiers stationed there).
I couldn’t have known about seeing the sunrise from the air while flying past Mount Rainier.
I had never heard of Ski Land outside of Fairbanks and that there would be breathtaking views where we were totally alone and felt on top of the world.
I had never heard of Chena Hot Springs where the hot springs steam against the most gorgeous winter landscape and the pinkish hues in the sky would make us pause and take countless pictures to try to capture what our eyes were showing us.
I wouldn’t have added seeing a moose meander past in the snowy backdrop on a winter night to my bucket list.
So, for now, I think I’ll scratch the bucket list and live with total abandon and gratitude for the wonder of surprise that my Heavenly Father shows me every day. I want to live limitlessly and aware of anywhere He leads me.
Since this is a new year and a new decade, I wonder what amazing opportunities await.
I can’t wait for the adventures–adventures I don’t even know to look for.
Are you a mission-hearted woman who’s ready to make an impact and a living? If so, join us for four purposeful weeks in February for Mission 2020: Sharing with Heart.