A Bucket List of the Past
Sydney Lee, English Columnist
When anyone asks what my hobby is, I tell them that my hobby is constructing lists. I absolutely love numbering my tasks of the day, listing the top ten cafes in the Bay I want to visit before graduate, and checking each item off upon its completion. But a bucket list is always about the future, and I realized that at times, looking towards the future becomes exhausting.
Approaching my final year at Berkeley, there is nothing more I do than imagine my future, plan my future, and hope for a future. As depressing as that may sound, the uncertainty of the future daunts every student as their graduation day approaches them. By focusing on the future, I forget about the value and significance of my past memories, good or bad. On the days I am frustrated, drained, or simply sad, I seek to find what would make things better in the future, rather than think about the lessons I have learned from the past that may help me deal with my negative emotions.
Hence, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create a bucket list of the past, in which I reflect upon past memories and things that I should have accomplished in the past. I do not believe that these are regrets, but rather reflections; and I believe that such reflections have taught me invaluable lessons in life that remind me of why I am who I am today. I left these lists at what should’ve been, not what I could've done, to show you that I am flawed and human just as any other being in this world, but also because as I've said before, this is not a list of regrets, but of reflections.
Telling my grandma how delicious her cooking was everyday.
As I approach the kitchen, the irresistible scent of my grandma’s signature beef stew fills my nose and I run out of my room with a youthful smile towards the kitchen table. Looking at the table filled with the usual grandma’s signature side dishes, an extremely overwhelming amount of rice in my bowl, and the beef stew in a pot in the middle, I tell her, “Grandma, I am so hungryyyyyy!” As my 12 year old self hurriedly gulps up the delicious dishes that I wish would never disappear, I can feel her smiling subtly as she gazes at me eating way too quickly. But I never tell her that it’s not just today that her cooking is appreciated, that I love her not just for her cooking, and that without her, my days would be darker.
Thanking my teacher for being an inspiration to me and countless others.
I remember the teacher that stayed with me after school on the day I was rejected from a college I had dreamt of for years. As I suppressed my tears and mumbled that my 4 years worth of work had been worthless, she pats my shoulder and tells me I am more than a single rejection letter. She says that she has always enjoyed reading my unpredictable essays and has been grateful to be there to see my writing style improve. She says that this comment that came from her should mean more to me than a letter from an admissions office that hasn’t seen my progress for 3 years, but has rather made a decision within 3 minutes. I hug her and tell her, “thank you,” but I end it there. I never tell her that I’m not just thankful that she’s here to console me, but rather that I am thankful for her presence being an inspiration to me as she saw the best in me when no one else did.
Placing the electronics down at the dinner table to ask my little brother how his day was.
As Kevin and my 14 year old self prepare for another dinner meal without our working parents, we both put on earphones attached to our individual laptop devices to watch our own favorite Netflix shows. We have dinner in front of each other, but conversation is absent and we laugh separately at different timings, each never knowing what the other laughed at. I knew that he hated school, as he was made fun of for his weight as he was chubbier than the average 9 year old. He always came home from school without a smile, without a word about what his day consisted of, and heads straight to his room with a slouched shoulder. Even while knowing this, I never ask him if he wants to talk about his school day, how his classes are going, or if he has made new friends.
Letting him know that I was grateful for him every second we were together.
I remember I was having a rather “pissy” day as I was just angry at everything around me. I don’t remember exactly why I was so moody, but I just know that even without knowing the reason, he was there for me. He asks, “What do you want to eat?” and I would carelessly reply, “I don’t care. Anything.” He sighs and drives to a nearby fast food diner that we often go to. As we order our food, I still don’t engage in conversation and twirl the straw of my lemonade as I stare down at the table blankly. He tries to ask about my day, the new sundress I’m wearing, and the way my hair is done today. I don’t reply; I simply don’t feel like it. But I never tell him that I was grateful for him, even during these moments when he put up with my moodiness when he didn’t have to, the efforts he made to show that he cared for me, and every moment in which he was simply with me in physical presence as it brought me more comfort than he probably realized.
Telling my mom “I love you”s more often rather than “Just let me do what I want”s.
I was 15. I thought that my friends were the only ones who understood me. All I cared about was how I looked and whether I was liked by everyone at school. I get home from school, close my room door, and start my homework. My mom knocks, brings in a plate of freshly cut fruits, and I snap at her, “Why didn’t you knock, mom?” Instead of thanking her for the fruits she brings me, I wave her off to get out as I need to finish my assignments to chat with my friends later in the night. But I never tell her that it was the fruits that got me through the homework, that I actually enjoyed seeing her smiling face peek inside my room, and that I truly loved her for everything she always did for me.
Spending the weekend with friends at brunch rather than with Netflix in bed.
I’m lazy. That’s what I tell my friends when I wake up on Sunday morning at 10am, to a text message from them, asking me if I am down for brunch. I simply indulge in the restfulness of the weekend and the warmth of my bed. I tell myself that I had a long week and deserve this relaxation and proceeded to wiggle into my blankets. I know that the college days with my friends are numbered, and that nothing will ever be the same once we throw the graduation cap in the air and proceed to go our own ways. But I never end up going to brunch with them or telling them that I would gratefully treasure every moment with them, as our youthful times in college only last for so long.
Waking up with the mindset of a “new day, new achievements.”
Nowadays, I wake up, groggy and stressed about the little sleep I got last night and another day of endless stress I will face. I brush my teeth, wash my face, eat breakfast, and put on my clothes almost robotically. I don’t feel excitement upon what today will bring and refer to my planner for the set schedule that I have set forth myself weekly. Everything feels so repetitive, so overdone, and so dull. I know in the back of my mind, that I have more good days than bad ones, but at that moment, I ignore this fact and store it in the back of my mind. But I never tell myself that a new day creates opportunities for new achievements, that I am simply grateful for the roof over my bed and the food I have access to, and proceed on with another caffeinated day.
There is a reason why I don’t explain why I never did the things I should have or would have done. The reason is still difficult for me to understand, as I do not have any explanations for the way I acted at a certain age or in a certain mood. As cliche as it may be, I think the reason is simply because I’m human; and for us humans, feelings at times overpower our reasoning or the ability to distinguish between right or wrong, but the beauty is that this is how our moments of reflection are created.