That headline is only part of the title. In full, it is Seven Ways to Lighten Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket and the first thing to know about it is that it is not about bucket lists. (Whew! Had it been, I would not have paid attention.)
Instead, Lighten Your Life... is, as the two authors explain on page 1,
”...our reaction to the idea of making a list of things to do before you kick the bucket. A bucket list is a list of things to do before you die. Our ...ucket lists are ways to live before your die.”
I'll get to those “...ucket lists” in a moment but first, meet Walt Hopkins and George Simons, two old guys in their 70s who are decades-long friends, one of whom lives in the south of France these days, the other in Scotland although both grew up in Ohio.
They remind me (non-U.S. readers might not get this reference) of Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers who hosted the long-running PBS radio show, Car Talk.
Walt and George have a similar joie de vivre, love of life and a good laugh, aren't afraid to be silly and are equally expert in their fields as Click and Clack were at theirs. Here is how they described their ongoing careers to me:
”In more than 30 countries for more than 40 years, Walt Hopkins has been leading courses on influencing skills and life-designing skills for all sorts of organizations—including the UN’s World Food Programme, the European Space Agency, Shell, Statoil, and Unilever.
“George Simons is an independent intercultural consultant, trainer, game designer and poet, who facilitates a worldwide virtual consulting network. Clients he has served include: Alstom, Olympus, UNHCR, The Asian Development Bank, Michelin and Deutsche Post."
With generous examples from their lives and the lives of people they have known, along a multitude of wise quotations from the ancients to the moderns and a lot of laughing along the way, Walt and George explain how they have come to savor their late years by making time and room to enjoy “that which is most precious to them.”
Although there are “Learnings” throughout the book, it is not necessarily an instruction book or a how-to or a primer about growing old. As they say up front:
”Pluck what works for you and duck, chuck, or fuck the rest.”
Which brings me to those seven “...ucket lists.” Fortunately for me, Walt and George have provided something any long-time TGB readers know I'm no good at: succinct explanations. Here are their short versions of the seven “...uckets.”
- Chucket: Dump things you no longer need in your life
- Shucket: Shuck the wrappings and keep the gift
- Ducket: Dodge demands that don't fit your values
- Fucket: Dump what you're fed up doing or being
- Plucket: Reach for what you still want to do and be
- Trucket: Keep on truckin' by doing what you love
- Tucket: Appreciate what you have gained and given
Within each of the seven are many kinds of suggestions on how to “lighten your life” - some of it advice along with wise observations, reflections, how to laugh at yourself and give yourself permissions you might not have done in the past. Now, they tell us, with great, good nature throughout, is the time to do this.
You can easily guess that number one, Chucket, is about getting rid of the stuff we collect over a lifetime and they provide a list (yes, a list of seven) questions to help decide what to keep and what to “chuck.”
The Shucket section is all about peeling off “the unneeded, distracting, the useless” and it's not all physical. George writes this chapter and he quotes the Italian poet, Cesare Pavese:
”Take off all your envies, jealousies, unforgiveness, selfishness and fears...the closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.”
I'm tellin' ya, if there were nothing else in this book, the many quotations about growing old would be worth every penny. Before this book, I thought I had a rich and extensive collection of age-related quotations. I was mistaken. But they and I do share this, Raymond Carver's last poem titled Late Fragment:
And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so:
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on this earth.
Walt writes the Fucket section which is, to some degree, exactly what you think it would be, but wider, broader, deeper. One of the things on Walt's fucket list to leave behind is fear and in explaining, he quotes James Lipton:
”I am speaking of the kind of risk-taking that seems to be involved in the conspicuous abandonment of safe physical, emotional and intellectual redoubts, in favor of new paths where dragons may lie in wait.
“I am sacrilegiously equating a state of fear with a state of grace, if the fear is evoked by testing treasured beliefs and established patterns – one's own, not someone else's.
There are so many wise and wonderful delights in Lighten Your Life that I could quote endlessly. Instead, I'm going to hold a drawing to give away three copies. But first, two more things. The seventh way is the Tucket List and George explains that it's a real word. Who knew:
”To tuck is to play a drumroll. A tucket is a fanfare – a trumpet blast with a roll of drums – that originated in Elizabethan drama. So your tuckets are your fanfares...
“Choosing to Tucket is choosing to toot your own horn and sound your own drum, possibly to others but mainly to yourself.”
This thoughtful guide to living our late years well is something to keep nearby as there is much to learn from these guys. Get out your highlighters – it's the kind of book you'll want to mark up.
Seven Ways to Light Your Life Before You Kick the Bucket is available at the usual online book purveyors. You can also order it from the U.K. publisher and you can follow Walt and George at the book's Facebook page.The authors have made three copies of Lighten Your Life available to give away to TGB readers. As in the past, we will do a random drawing. Here's how it goes:
Leave a message in the comments section below (no emails). That's it. If you have something to say about the book, that's good – we like lively discussions here - but not required.
The only requirement is that you state your interest in winning one of the books. “Please enter me in the drawing,” works. Or typing, "Me, me, me" will do it, too. I'm not fussy.
The contest will close tomorrow night, 17 March 2016, at midnight U.S. Pacific daylight time. The three winners will be chosen in a random, electronic drawing and their names (as they appear at the bottom of their comments) will be announced on this blog on Friday 18 March 2016.
I'll leave you with one more of the many well-chosen quotations Walt and George have scattered throughout their book. This one is from the American mythologist, Joseph Campbell:
”One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment.”