Where Did My Bucket List Go? Does it really matter? In the last five years I haven't done one thing on it.
1. I never did the "Amazing Race" with my wife.
2. I didn't jump out of a plane.
3. My wife and I have never been on a cruise ship to anywhere.
4. Ah...I can't remember. Wait! No, forget it.
When things don't go my way, I retreat to my cabin in the woods. Being a solitary hunter has defined me for the last five years, but that's not exactly how I want to be remembered. I think it's the selfish part of me?
Sometimes when I'm alone on my deer stand in the woods, I will close my eyes and imagine laying in a coffin. I think about the personalities of my children and what they might say to each other. I visualize the ones who might cry, and the ones who will be a strong shoulder to lean on. I think of my wife and the deep loneliness that would engulf her soul, like the belly of an ocean swell that seeks the bottom before it rises heavenward.
She begs me not to hunt alone. I tell her sweetly. I have no friends to hunt with because you are the only friend I have ever needed.
I have a risk gene. It's recessive, like my blue eyes. I've never climbed Mt. Everest, just my deer-stand. Now, I just wait for the five hundred pound black bear to come strolling my way. If I'm I miss, I'm pretty sure he could get me in this tree. He was never on my bucket list in the first place. Maybe, I should let him be?
I take a deep satisfied breath and think about where my priorities should be.
What if I fell from the stand and accidentally shot myself? What if I got lost in the woods forever? What if I had a heart attack? Every year in the Adirondack Mountains there are reports of men hunters getting lost for good.
I check for my cell phone. I keep it next to my thumping heart.
It will be Thursday night, and my teenage kids depend on me to drive them to youth group. I know my role. I need to empty my selfishness in this place through the cold crisp air that fills my lungs. I exhale into the mist. I take one last deep sigh.
I find comfort as I leave my place in the woods, my solitary domain. Soon I will have a truckload of my children with their friends going to church, where they sing the young Christian songs. They will be in a crowd of hundreds raising their hands, praising God. They will acknowledge that God made us the crown of his creation.
I will stand in the midst of a whir of teenagers with excited joy etched on their faces. They will flow past me as if they have built in radar, not even looking at me. But it's okay. I will be the odd old man with a pee warm coffee in my hand, but I'm loved.
I'm glad my kids have found the faith I discovered when I was a teenager. Do they know it started in the woods?
I say goodbye to the solitary beaver below in the creek, the solitary bear who ambles on the ridge, and the solitary buck that scrapes the ground with his hoof.
When I was young I sought God in the woods. I challenged God to show himself. I told God I would find him, as if I were a hunter on a missionary trail. I told God, this earth, this vast domain could not have been an accident. One day, he revealed himself to me in a powerful way.
It's time to live the next five years for my family. Screw the bucket list. Let the bears live in the woods. It's time I walk out of the woods with real vision and purpose, a selfless one.
This is the snapshot of my life, finally walking out of the woods, glad to be alive, and going home to my family, being a chauffer for my teenagers, and when the house is an empty nest, a lover to my wife.
Love is the greatest legacy you can leave. Faith is the greatest gift to our children.
Ta' hell with the bucket list.
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