Bucket List Experiences

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a sensational film exploring the discovery of life's many awe-inspiring moments and experiences, investigating adventures outside the everyday. Sometimes I think I live for those awe moments; those moments to stop and behold the beauty and wonder around me. I sometimes like to call these experiences, "Bucket List Experiences". Many of these, for me, seem to take place when I'm in a unique and inspiring environment, surrounded by things I have never seen or experienced before. 

Early on in my high school career, I embarked on my first international mission trip. We went to Belize. It was truly amazing, filled with moments to behold. I experienced people who were full of life, yet they lacked in wealth.

Belmopan, Belize

Belmopan, Belize

Juan in Belmopan, Belize

Juan in Belmopan, Belize

Once I experienced this small yet wonderful piece of life, I wanted more. I wanted to travel and live experiences that were unfamiliar and exotic.

In 2006, I traveled to Thailand working alongside christian college students in Bangkok who were seeking fellowship and belonging in a place where christians were few and far between. With three trips to Haiti, I experienced the desperation, yet pure joy of a people who rely explicitly on the hope that God offers and the love and kindness of his followers.

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Port-de-Paix, Haiti

Port-de-Paix, Haiti

As I grew older, I wanted more of these "Bucket List Experiences". I wanted to explore not just for missions but for education and leisure. Spending six glorious weeks immersed in the Italian culture of food and art further ingrained in me an innate sense of wonder and curiosity. This trip was followed by treks through Guatemala, adventures in Paris, and a graduate studio program studying design in Southern France. These exploits all meant to quench my inexplicable thirst to behold that which I considered to be truly breathtaking and life changing, those "Bucket List Experiences". 

Cinqueterre, Italy

Cinqueterre, Italy

Paris, France

Paris, France

In my head, I have a list of places I want to go and things I want to do, whether they be feats of bravery or discovering astonishing wonders across the globe. My list does not include places where I have already been or experiences that I have already had. Been there, done that.

In my every day life, I travel to numerous places that I can most assuredly picture with my eyes closed. I experience similar situations interacting with familiar people in common places. Yet, I have never once experienced the exact same situation more than once. Why is it so unorthodox to image that everyday life can offer sights to behold and experiences that can change a life? 

As I embark on a New Year, I think about the experiences that have shaped me thus far and those experiences that are to come that will continue to mold me throughout life. So, I'm working on a Bucket List; a place to inscribe with a sense of permanence those things and experiences for which I thrive. Many of these will include daring acts, adventures to lands I've never seen, tasting foods I've never thought to try, taking chances, conquering fears and taking steps that might be difficult or scary.

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I often default to the thought that these "Bucket List Experiences" can only take place outside my normal life. They are experiences that will pull me out of the every day and into some mythical land, like OZ. 

To everyone who lived in OZ, it was ordinary. The first item on my bucket list is to find the incredible, the beautiful, the awe inspiring in the everyday and ordinary. With a shift in focus and a new perspective, "Bucket List Experiences" can happen in the here and now. I don't want to go around assuming that nothing exceedingly great can happen just because it's considered normal. Now, I don't plan to cross all those other items off my list, but I do plan to reexamine that which I consider Bucket List worthy. This is my New Year's resolution. What's yours?