Time to Kick the “Bucket List”!

Rod Pickett
3 min readApr 29, 2024

Happiness isn’t found in some finite checklist of goals that we can diligently complete and then coast. It’s how we live our lives in the process.
Arthur C. Brooks

It just didn’t seem right. I couldn’t leave her in the hot car for three hours.

I was in El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest system, located in Puerto Rico.

La Coca Trail snakes down 656 feet to La Coca Waterfall.

In different circumstances, I would have concentrated on reaching the goal as quickly as possible.

This time, my wife was reading her Kindle sitting in the car.

Although she had planned to read while I hiked the more strenuous trails, 180 minutes was too long to make her wait.

Since reaching the end of the trail was no longer the goal, I decided to slow down and appreciate the sounds and sights along the way.

I noticed the bright yellow clay, a large snail moving with its shell on its side, and the unusual orange fruit plopped here and there on the forest floor.

I listened to the foreign songs of the rainforest birds and the more familiar buzzing of insects.

And though I never reached the end of the trail to hear the roar of the waterfall, I did come upon a rather impressive set of rapids that could be described as a horizontal waterfall.

It's easy for me to get so caught up in where I want to go, what I want to see, and what I want to do that I'm always in a rush to get there and do that.

My focus on the end goal often distracts me from the present moment.

Once a goal is achieved, I cross it off my list and head toward the next one.

Yes. There is a payoff to reaching a goal.

A hike without a purpose is aimless meandering.

But the authentic pleasure comes from delighting in the journey.

La Coca Trail wasn’t merely a way to get to La Coca Waterfall.

It was an experience in itself.

Sure, it was strenuous, but that was part of what made it attractive.

We were made to always be learning, always be growing, and always be exploring.

These are activities that we do for their own sake, similar to playing.

Today, you have a checklist of things you want to accomplish.

Don’t focus only on the moment when you can cross each item off your list.

If your goal is to reach the end of your list, good luck.

The list is always longer than the day.

But the day is much more than the list.

Take a moment to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you, and try to create some of your own.

Make meaningful connections with people. Don’t treat them as robots to be programmed.

Be curious. Ask questions. Look for answers.

Delight in the present you’ve been given.

— Rod Pickett

Now available at Amazon: The Courageous Heart: Wisdom for Difficult Times in paperback and eBook, an Eric Hoffer Award Finalist, a must-read for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance. Get your copy today.



Rod Pickett

Rod Pickett is a writer, pastor, teacher, photographer, real estate broker, personal trainer, consultant, trained hypnotist, woodworker and life-long learner.