I’ve been listening to people discuss their “bucket list” for the past number of years and really didn’t know why creating such a list was important. I didn’t really think much about it until I realized the correlation between creating the list and acting upon the list before you died.
Honestly, I don’t have a list of things I want to do because I am fulfilled by so many people I’ve come in contact with over the years. My bucket is full because of the many people I’ve witnessed, encountered and worked with. It is their lives that have inspired me.
Simply stated, I really don’t have any desire to create a bucket list, nor do I have any burning desire to do something very “wild” before “kicking” the proverbial bucket. I did create another list that I do draw upon as I attempt to live my life to its fullest. My list talks about those individuals who have been most influential or inspirational in my life.
While my full list is rather extensive, I thought I would share twelve of the most memorable and influential people in my life.
• A fellow teacher and coach, who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS aka amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), who taught me the value of helping everyone you can, regardless of their situation in life; genuine caring for individuals and to have infinite patience in spite of difficulty or situation.
• A high school football coach, who taught me to always prepare, to visualize success and develop a “can-do” attitude in everything you approach and do.
• My father, who taught me to learn a positive lesson (identify the silver lining) from every experience in life and develop a strong work ethic no matter how tiresome the task. For him, persistence was the only way to live your life.
• An elementary school janitor when I was in kindergarten, who taught me tolerance and respect for all individuals regardless of age, culture or race.
• A high school guidance counselor who taught me the value of “leading with the heart” in difficult situations and to use my conscience when making difficult decisions.
• My freshman football coach (long-time junior high coach) taught me to genuinely care for the kids in my charge, no matter what.
• A college professor who taught me that most of the students we teach have doubts and fears and we need to address and acknowledge needs if we are to be successful in helping them with their education.
• A high school basketball coach taught me that ethics, professionalism and loyalty are paramount if we are to be successful; winning is secondary to those fundamentals.
• A Notre Dame sister who taught me to attempt to live my life in service to others, always putting others first and in this order — God, family, others and, then, myself.
• My family who taught me dedication, respect and commitment to others while keeping their faith as most important in our lives.
• A group of college students who have dedicated themselves to raising funds for a Children’s Hospital in Toledo. Their motto was and is “For the Kids” and their spirit of service and caring is simply incredible.
• Finally, I was most inspired by a young lady who developed a program known as the Teen Leadership Corps. Mary Ann Creamer’s dream was to develop service leadership programs in every high school across our country. While we lost Mary Ann way too early, her thoughts still guide me today.
Care more than others think is wise;
Risk more than others think is safe;
Dream more than others think is practical;
Expect more than others think is possible.
Lastly: Lead, serve and inspire the world.
I suggest people should spend time reflecting on their “blessings” and who has made the greatest difference. It’s much safer than trying to accomplish a “bucket list” and can be much more satisfying. I am so thankful for the wonderful experiences that I have had throughout my life and career. I guess you could say, my life is full of joy because of so many people I encountered who gave to others unselfishly and with great joy, themselves.
Local columnist Dennis Doughty is the president of Norwalk Catholic School.