By Kendal Conner
In the 2007 movie, “The Bucket List,” Morgan Freeman’s character, Carter, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. His time in the hospital causes him to recall a philosophy assignment from his freshman year of college. His professor asked him to create a list of all he wanted to do before he “kicked the bucket.”
The movie goes on to center around the adventures of the two main characters, Carter and his hospital roommate, Edward, as they decide to complete the items on their own “bucket lists.”
At one point during the film, Carter says to Edward, “45 years goes by pretty fast.” Edward responds with the simple cliché, “Like smoke through a keyhole.”
Now, I realize that most of us are not currently faced with the difficult decision of how to spend the last days of our lives. Instead, as college students, we are commonly faced with the coming reality of how we will spend the “rest” of our lives. Older generations consistantly tell us that college is only the beginning, and we have our whole lives ahead of us.
However, as we quickly approach graduation day and revel at the pending future, I cannot help but pause and think: “Wow, four years goes by pretty fast — like smoke through a keyhole.”
This January was the first time that keyhole stared me in the face, and the nostalgia about my last semester overwhelmed me.
While filling out job application after job application, I realized that for the last three and a half years I have focused on how Union could prepare me for the future. And somewhere along the way I lost the beauty of what Union could offer for my present.
This realization lead me to an idea that would become known as my “Union Bucket List” — 25 things that every Union student should do before graduation.
I created a list, set a goal to complete it before graduation and embarked on a semester I will not soon forget.
In order to be confident I covered all the necessities on my list, I took suggestions from several hundred current and former Union students. I then narrowed my list down to only those items any Union student can do, and that are fairly specific to Union.
I must admit, however, I selected a few slightly extravagant suggestions such as “climbing the Miller Bell Tower” — which is not available to all students. Yet, I was told the good news for students is that the tower is always available, upon permission, for “special” events such as engagements.
It is also important to note that several items on my list were actually completed prior to this semester. When viewing the list as a personal legacy, I decided to include all the things I found important for a Union student, from Focus week to the moment they walk across the stage to shake Dr. Dockery’s hand.
The truth is it would be a daunting task to recount every adventure I had while completing my bucket list.
To make up for this, I included the full bucket list next to my article. But I do wish to give special attention to my top two items.
The two items that became most valuable to me were: to invest in a local body of believers and to invest in a group of people in Jackson who represent a different culture than your own.
The reality is it took me longer than many to invest in a church in Jackson. For two years I tried to hold on to my parent’s church as my “local” church. But when I made the decision my junior year to join West Jackson Baptist Church, God began growing me in ways I never expected.
The biggest blessings I have received in college are the relationships I have built with the members of my church. Not only have I been consistently poured into — something I could not get being so far from my parents’ church — but I have also had the opportunity to consistently pour into the lives of others.
I can never replace my time at West Jackson, and I will truly miss my faith family when I leave. Yet, I am confident in knowing I will take all I have learned from them with me.
Even more, it was the second item on my bucket list that led me to the greatest adventures, and the hardest lessons, of my semester.
To be honest, when I was first given the suggestion to invest in a different culture I was not excited. In my mind it would take too much time from my already hectic schedule. Little did I know I would soon be joyfully rearranging my schedule around my time with this group of people.
When trying to decide whom to invest in, the opportunity presented itself to serve with “Room in the Inn” — an Area Relief Ministries event for homeless men in Jackson.
It was this group of men that would soon impact my heart. I was continually amazed by the lessons these men taught me. I will never forget the night I was sitting with three of the men during dinner at West Jackson. My hope was to have a good conversation with them, which would lead to the Gospel.
To my surprise, I spent that entire night simply listening as one of the men preached the truth of the Gospel to me. I was able to see that even in the midst of his struggles, the power of the Gospel was strong in his life, and he desired that I too understood the greatness of that Gospel.
I wish I could share the experiences I had while completing each bucket list item. I would love to show all the places I have been, and the lessons I have learned.
Honestly, I believe that one sentence can summarize my whole bucket list experience: It is not about how you spend your time while at Union as much as it is about the people with whom you spend your time.
Union Bucket List
Involvement in a local church
Invest in a group of people who represent a different culture than your own
Perform in Variety show
Go to your professors’ homes
See a Union play
See Barefoots Joe concert
Attend an Open Mic
Climb Miller Bell Tower
Costume Coffee House
Write DSD a letter
Slipe-n-slide at the U
Go to Memphis/Nashville
Lunch on Barefoot Joe’s patio
Cookout at the commons
Swim in Union pool
Go to an away sports game
Movie on the Lawn