The Bucket List

Just over a month ago Jan, my wife, and I went down to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall.  Jan had quietly searched the internet and booked the tickets two years before, after I had missed the same concert in Manchester.  I’d mentioned that this piece of music was one I’d really like to hear in my lifetime.

Mahler’s second symphony, known as The Resurrection, requires huge resources – 120 orchestral players, two soloists and over a hundred in the choir that joins the orchestra in the last movement.  A movement that grows and grows towards an Apocalyptic climax, only to drop into a sublime stillness.

“So you have ticked off one of the items on your bucket list”, said a friend.   I do make lists of jobs and tick them off as I go – with a schoolteacher’s red pen!  But I realised that I don’t have a bucket list. Should I start one?  I found that I didn’t have any enthusiasm for making one.  In fact it felt a bit stressful to even contemplate it.  Another job to do.

We can always be looking forward, always striving.  Ticking things off.  Only to find something else to add to the list.  Where would my bucket list end and would I ever complete it?  Buddhists talk of “aimlessness”.  We tend to be disparaging about people who are aimless.  “Aimlessness” is the antidote to striving.

That accords with Mahler’s vision of the sublime stillness that ends his symphony. One in which, “Just an overwhelming love illuminates our being.  We know, and are.”

Chris Dawson

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