The Barf Bag List


One of my favorite movies is “The Bucket List.” The plot summary for the 2007 flick is this: Corporate billionaire Edward Cole (played by Gene Hackman) and working class mechanic Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses.

While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list (things to do before they “kick the bucket”).

In the process they become unlikely friends, and ultimately find the joy in life. It was a wonderfully funny and touching film.

Realizing that time is marching by, I decided a few weeks ago, while flying to a meeting, that I needed a “bucket list.” Scrambling around for some paper on which to write, all I could find was an air sickness bag. So I made a “Barf Bag List,” a simple statement of things I’d like to do before I “choke.”

I tried to be realistic and eliminate such things as “a ride on the space shuttle.” I excluded things that were beyond my power, like “achieve world peace” and “pick all my grandchildren’s future spouses.”

There are, on the list, places, I’d like to visit: Ireland (again), Israel, Scotland, England, New Zealand, the Bahamas, Rome, Vietnam, and Cuba (it’s my list and the reasons are personal). I’ve been to Uganda, Kenya, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Mexico, Australia, the Philippines, Ireland (once), and the Netherlands.

I’d also like to visit the states I haven’t seen yet, including Hawaii, Oregon, the Dakotas, and a few others.

I’d like to skydive once — and survive. I want to lose a certain amount of weight (how much is none of anyone’s business — but the goal would be to reach 175-180 pounds).

I’d like to learn Spanish, closing the door on my failure to pass the course in the ninth grade where I needed to make 103 on the final exam to pass for the year and made 37 instead and had to suffer through summer school.

I’d like to get to the place where I could run, not walk, in a 10K race. I’d like to reconcile with anyone from whom I am estranged.

On the list is the desire to learn to play the drums. I tease drummers about not really being musicians, but in truth, I’m just envious.

I’d like to learn to fly a small aircraft, even though my wife would never get in the plane with me. I want to take a motorcycle course and learn to ride a Harley, even though my wife would never get on the motorcycle with me.

I’d like to see our church build a new sanctuary that would be filled to capacity each Sunday and be debt-free (not entirely in my power, but it’s on the list).

I want to finish my doctoral project and I have a couple of books I’d like to write. One is “Every Shepherd Needs a Shovel” which would be a realistic look at being a pastor.

The other would be “Honey, I Shrunk the Diocese,” a warning to all ministers of ambition who think they want to be a bishop or hold some high denominational office (the plot is “it’s not anything like you think it might be and you are nuts if you want to do that”).

I’d like to get in shape and fight in one more martial arts tournament — not necessarily win, just accord myself well and not be humiliated, maimed, or killed. I think I’d like to learn to box.

I’d really like to do the mixed martial arts/cage fighting thing but I’m not sure I could survive that experience or live through the price I’d have to pay at home for being stupid in my older years.

Admittedly, it’s a rather self-centered list that is laced in places with testosterone. It’s also a “push the limits” list — for me at least.

Realistic? Time will tell, but the list is a work in progress. Like Poet Robert Frost, I “have miles to go before I sleep.” Or, in my case, miles to go and things to do before I choke.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec,org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese ( and may be contacted at]