The Bucket List

by Lauren Vespoli | 5/9/13 10:00pm

You might find it odd, hypocritical or utterly predictable that after writing 24 columns this year under the title and premise of the "Dartmouth Bucket List," I am beginning to slightly resent the idea of a bucket list. In my first column, I championed making the most of senior year and doing all those things that we'll never have a chance to do again. I congratulated myself on a senior column idea that would give me an excuse to do fun things every week and jauntily embarked upon an adventure to a corn maze, finally got myself to Friday Night Rock and the greenhouse in the Life Sciences Center and took the Polar Bear Plunge.

As senior spring rolled around, the talk of bucket lists got more and more prevalent among seniors as we prepared ourselves for our term full of last everythings. There were the Dartmouth "challenges" we procrastinated completing (Ledyard Challenge, FoCo challenge go to FoCo dressed in your formal attire and procure a date 30 minutes before the event, although the $14 dinner swipe makes it basically prostitution) because we were scared or lazy or rational, the rope swings we never found and eating lunch at the "real" King Arthur Flour in Norwich.

But now that senior spring is finally here, and as if the pressure to make sure you don't miss the swim test and get a job and figure whether your major is complete because degree audit is useless isn't enough, we need to be having all of the fun all of the time. Are you a '13? Why are you reading this? You should be out having the time of your life and snapchatting it to your 19 closest friends. Maybe I'm a little bitter because I've put myself in a situation where I have to write about the fun that I have, but I think there's something to be said for "bucket-listing" as more of a gradual lifestyle than the typical Dartmouth mad dash to have the most fun you can in four weeks. Maybe I'm having an end-of-column crisis. Maybe I'm cynical. Maybe I'm burnt out.

Combined with the pictures and filters we all feel compelled to use as some sort of evidence of our fun-having, bucket-listing begins to commodify our time into neat little activities we can check off.

I've heard seniors say they need to do an activity every single day. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself. Since when did constant activity equal constant fun? Are you going to start feeling bad if you can't bombard yourself with a new experience every single day? Sometimes, a prolonged dinner on the Green, a quiet afternoon by yourself with some interesting reading or attending a lecture by a brilliant speaker is enough. We should hike Mount Moosilauke, visit the Cabot Cheese factory and go to Quechee Gorge, but we should also savor the treasures in our daily routines, the morning walk across the Green to Collis, our favorite study spot in Sherman, because we will lose them, too.

With all of that said, I did check something small off my bucket list this week. I went to Nathan's Garden in Hanover for the first time. After an impossibly beautiful weekend, I still couldn't bring myself to sit in the library, so a friend and I went on a leisurely bike ride through the neighborhoods of Hanover: Allen Street, Maple Street, Lewin Street, West Street, past clapboard houses with brightly colored doors until we found Nathan's Garden and decided to explore. The garden occupies a small hollow in the woods off of Maple Street. There are wooden chairs and tables, an old-style wooden swing and plenty of empty space for a picnic. The garden is one of those calm, quiet places that might be important to one's sanity in the high-speed, constantly stimulating Dartmouth environment. Now that everything is in bloom, it would be a beautiful place to bring a dinner, maybe some wine. I'm going to maintain my self-imposed gimmick for the last few weeks of the year, because this is project is important to me and it's stretched me, but I think no matter what point we're at in our Dartmouth careers, we need to have real expectations and we need to appreciate the ordinary within this glorious and fleeting period of growth, exploration and freedom.

In my first column, I asked for your suggestions and I'm going to continue to do so: email me at Three weeks left, people.

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