I recently unpacked some old VHS family movies that had been in storage for years. Some of them dated back twenty eight years. My wife and my grown daughters got a kick out of watching the videos again after so many years. I think it’s so cool that my adult daughters can see themselves as children. Even my grandson’s enjoyed watching their mother and aunt when they were exactly the same age as my grandsons are right now. I wasn’t in a lot of the movies because I was usually the one holding the camera. There were still some brief moments that I was caught on camera when obviously someone else was recording. I noticed a disturbing transformation in me as the years passed on each video. No, I’m not talking about how I gained weight and lost more hair with each video! That was disturbing, but I noticed a trend occurring that bothered me even more. Each progressing year revealed a less joyful, less patient, and a little meaner me. The evidence was undeniable. It was all captured on video and staring me in the face. I was guilty.
Viewing my gradual downward transformation on those old VHS tapes caused me to do some serious soul-searching. What made me less happy, impatient, and unkind to people; especially to my immediate family? I came to the conclusion that I allowed the cares of everyday life choke and squeeze the sweetness out of me. Allowing the weight of the world to take up residence on my shoulders made me an unhappy camper. I became so focused on my career, paying bills, fixing the house, repairing the car, and keeping up appearances, that I lost sight of what and who was most important in my life. It’s not that I didn’t love my family, I just didn’t appreciate them like I should have and realize how incredibly blessed I was.
Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying” tells of a man who has been given a fatal diagnosis and suddenly realizes what’s important in life. He talks about doing a few things he has always been afraid of doing like skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, and riding a bull named Fu Manchu. But he get down to the deeper matters of the heart like loving deeper, speaking sweeter, and giving forgiveness previously denied. He goes on to tell about the other transformations in his life like finally becoming the husband that most of the time he wasn’t, and becoming a friend that a friend would love to have. His hope is that everyone would get the chance to live like they were dying.
A movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called “The Bucket List,” was about two terminally ill men who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of things they want to do before they die. They have some great adventures together but come to the understanding that their family and friendships are what’s most important. I have a bucket list that includes some travel and fun experiences but one thing I must do is taste that coffee Jack Nicholson described in the movie as “the rarest beverage in the world,” referring to Kopi Luwak or “civet coffee.” This coffee is made from coffee cherries eaten by and then passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet. The beans are then collected, processed, and medium roasted to enhance its complex flavors. I would love to taste this cat poop coffee! I hear it’s wonderful. But priced between $200 and $600 a pound, I don’t see me having a sip anytime soon.
I have a few things selfish things on my bucket list that I want to do like go to Ireland and own a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I really don’t have any desire to go skydiving and I can assure you I’m never going to ride a bull. Even if the bull is named “Gentle Ben,” I’m not getting near him! However, at the top of my list is what the man experienced in Tim McGraw’s song: to love deeper, speak sweeter, to generously give forgiveness, to finally become the husband that most of the time I wasn’t, and to be a friend that a friend would love to have.
I believe our bucket list accomplishments really boil down to daily choices. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT), “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” I don’t want to be mean to anyone ever again, especially to my family and friends. I want to practice what the Bible says in Romans 12:9 (NLT), “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”
Okay. Here’s the short version of my bucket list:
- Be patient with everyone, even the old guy wearing a hat driving 15 mph in a 40 mph zone in front of me.
- Speak softer, kinder and gentler to everyone, even to telemarketers.
- Honor and respect all people, even those whom I completely disagree with.
- Listen respectfully to others, even when I have no interest whatsoever in what they are talking about.
- See people for who they are, God’s wonderful and unique creations.
- T be always willing and ready to forgive.
- Express genuine love with every chance, both verbally and in tangible ways.
- And oh yes, one more thing…to drink a cup of that Kopi Luwak (cat poop) coffee!