Buckets or Bungee Cords: How Do You Weave Fulfillment into Your Life?

My husband and I recently watched Frybread Face and Me, a beautiful coming-of-age story on the Diné (Navajo) reservation. The writer, Billy Levine, offers tribute to his grandmother, his culture and his indigenous roots.

The story includes a master Diné weaver in the role of the maternal grandmother elder — who is also a master weaver teaching her visiting grandson the way of her people.

How We Thread Our Looms of Life

As she threads her loom, she explains that weaving is the process of bringing together the material life (sheep’s wool), with the ever-fluid thoughts of the weaver to connect with balance, harmony and kinship of all life.

We were eager to share this film with dear friends because the wife was once an exquisite weaver. She listened attentively and reflected: I had no idea I wanted to be a weaver. It wasn’t anywhere in my life. Then I saw someone weave and instantly knew I had to do it. And I wove for decades.

She paused and then continued: Then one morning I woke up and realized: I am complete. It’s time to pass this loom to my daughter.

So things just emerge for you as well? I asked. You don’t have a bucket list like so many people?

Oh, they always just emerge, she responded. Long ago while in therapy, my therapist suggested I become one. And I thought – oh, okay, and did so with gratitude and reward for decades.

Aaron, her husband, shared that he went to divinity school not to be a minister, really, but to teach kids. When he was kicked out of his church in the 1960s for taking a stand on racial issues, his teaching career blossomed across the country.

A logical path to accomplishments? Well, not particularly by our Western way of yardstick measurement.

Nor was it particularly logical when I asked the University of Hartford if I could create a graduate course in psychological safety and emotional intelligence.

I was so afraid of failing. But to my amazement, I didn’t! In fact, the University purchased the course for the curriculum (and I have first right of refusal to teach it).

A Bucket List or a Bungee Cord?

Was creating a course on my bucket list? Well, first, aren’t bucket lists supposed to be easy or easier? Like I want to go to Cambodia, Costa Rica and Cuba? What happens to me is more like a bungee cord. My heart and soul spontaneously leap into a possibility, latching securely onto a longing I didn’t know existed. And it is not effortless. I’m always questioning and filled with some sort of doubt.

To Be or Not to Be, A Twinkie

For example, a woman of my age at the gym recently said she swims and exercises so she can hike the White Mountains. I froze. Oh dear. There went the bungee cord. Could I still do it? I used to be quite a hiker until Lyme and a car accident changed my trajectory. That night I shared my excitement with my husband, saying we could pack light to manage my knee and shoulder pain. Sure, he responded, we’ll look like Twinkies, but we can do it. Oh God, I don’t want to be Twinkie. But then, I want to still hike. So I guess I’ll add a heap of humility as a prerequisite for new experiences.

The Impossible List

I discovered an alternative to the bucket lists, and it intrigues me. Write down all the things you’ve accomplished that you thought might be impossible and now provide a sense of pride, meaning and fulfillment. Doing so, notes the author in The Impossible List is Not a Bucket List, gives narrative to your story, purpose to your actions and context to your journey.

So do what matters FIRST and then write about it, not the reverse. Because a bucket list keeps getting smaller while an Impossible List keeps growing. Kinda like my bungee cord? I like the concept, but the author gets a bit too militant (for me).

Or Even Better, How About an Astonishment List?

I have another name I like better. How about an Astonishment List instead? However you arrive at your list (buckets, bungee cords or otherwise), write down all the big and small things that you’ve done that rather surprise and astonish you. What emerges is the mystery of you and what brings you joy and fulfillment.

As we walk into the new year, this is my wish for you. A sense of awe and astonishment at the weavings you have created and will create – connecting your present moment with all that holds and supports you.

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