In the original “Bucket List” column of May 2020 I mentioned the only thing that came to mind: to write something worthwhile. I was responding to a friend I had not seen in 50 years. Ever since she asked what was on my list I’ve wondered whether an almost empty bucket reflects contentment or a lack of motivation. So, I decided to see what else might warrant being added.
Something adventurous should be included, like soaring with the Space Shuttle. The only things keeping me from climbing aboard are cost and two incidents at the Macon fair.
My first bout of nausea happened on the Tilt-a-Whirl with David Dunaway. I’d ridden it before but never with that much fair food in my belly. Footlong hotdogs and candy apples don’t pair well with spinning carts. As soon as it stopped I scampered away, afraid the tattooed operator might stick me with a switchblade or a mop.
Round two came a few years later on an excursion with the Unadilla Future Farmers of America. Robbie Moore and I boarded The Bullet, a rocket that turned us every which way but loose. When our door was unlatched I pointed to Robbie and fled the scene. Maybe I’ll skip the adventure section of my bucket list unless pickleball comes to town.
Music might be a better fit, like singing a duet with Willie Nelson. He doesn’t need my help but would likely grin and pretend. George Strait recorded a song about the redheaded stranger’s countless duets with others. “I’d sure like to sing one with Willie,” laments George before his friend predictably joins in.
Willie already has a Dooly County connection, a joint effort with the late Larry G. Hudson of Unadilla. They were splendid on “Just Out of Reach of My Two Loving Arms.” Larry was a gifted singer, songwriter, and guitar player, an inspiration to the fledgling musicians in our rural school. He was a hometown hero long before he moved to Nashville.
A lot of us hoped that song would take Larry to the top, but stardom remained elusive. He almost hit the big time, but some things just aren’t meant to be. Larry was four grades ahead of me and our paths rarely crossed after he graduated, but each time I saw him he had the same easy smile and affable ways. Maybe he realized a skinny kid who played piano looked up to him.
Spiritual undertakings seem integral to a bucket list, but I’ll keep it simple and just add one – understanding God. Sometimes it frustrates me that I don’t have a better understanding of God, a lofty goal for a man who recently lost his truck in a parking garage.
We had a discussion a few years back in our men’s Sunday School class about understanding our Creator, a lesson on Job, I believe. I’ve heard sermons and read that story a few times, but it still befuzzles me why God pointed Job out to Satan, then let Satan do horrendous things to a man of exceptional righteousness.
When I see the unfathomable tragedies and heartbreak of innocent people, I sometimes ask God why, knowing I’ll likely get the silent treatment again. Then I reflect on what Steve Sanders said that morning in Sunday School, quoting a preacher he’d heard on television. The man had asked, “What kind of a God would he be if we could understand him?” The sobering answer is he’d be just like us. There’s a lot I’m unsure of, but I know I don’t want a God just like me.
I’ll pause my writing for now and turn up the radio. Willie is singing, “It’s Not for Me to Understand.” His personal theology may not be rock solid, but those lyrics perfectly remind me of who’s in charge and why.
The lead belongs to Willie while I’m adding some off-key harmony. I think I’ll let this impromptu session count for our duet. He doesn’t need my help, so maybe I should look for someone who does.
Understanding God is staying on my list, but I hope it doesn’t happen soon. That kind of insight only comes after we kick the bucket. I don’t really expect to understand God on this side of heaven, but I’m blessed by knowing God understands me.
So, my bucket list remains almost empty and I’m still not sure how I feel about that. Maybe I’ll add a few more goals down the road. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying to write something worthwhile, but not right now. At the moment I’m busy thinking. I’m pondering whether God is amused by a man who wants to understand him, but has a hard time finding his truck.