On Turning 60, My Bucket List and Eschatology by Marie Cartier

Photo by Kimberly Esslinger

Photo by Kimberly Esslinger

You will be reading this Feminism and Religion the day before I turn sixty.  For the past two decades I have had parties the night before I leave a decade—and “crossed over” at midnight, with the requisite amount of candles—forty, fifty and now sixty. I have everyone under the decade (in this case 60) on one side and those 60 and over on the other side and I will cross from my 50s to my 60s.   And so…I will also be doing that this year, the evening on which you read this. I will be crossing from one decade to the next.

I want to own all of the years of my life as deeply as possible.

And yet…there is and continues to grow now –“a bucket list.”

A bucket list seems to be analogous to the idea of heaven or “the end times.”

Eschatology is that part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. Some of us who practice theology might call eschatology an examination of heaven—or rather, what we get if we do what we believe is right in God’s eyes.  

Heaven is the end of ordinary reality and a reunion with the Divine. One period of time comes to an end, and another begins hence we have phrases such as, “end of the world”, or the “end of life as we know it”. It is usually a crisis that brings an end to current reality and ushers in a new way of being. This crisis may take the form of the intervention of a deity in history, a war, a change in the environment, or the reaching of a new level of consciousness.

Eschatologies vary as to their degree of optimism or pessimism about the future. In some eschatologies, conditions are better for some and worse for others, e.g. “heaven and hell”.

Can we look at our ideas about a “bucket list” eschatologically? As we move through our lives, do we think again and again, as I have done, of the things that change ordinary reality to the divine reality? Is our bucket list an intervention in our history, a reaching of a new level of consciousness—or a war with our current lives?

This is my bucket list for my 60th year. And perhaps you have one as well…do you ever think looking around at your current life…thoughts such as:

–“I want to go to Iceland…or at least make that reservation” (because they have a Feminist Parliament, Northern Lights and more folks that believe in fairies than anywhere else on the planet)…?

–I want to get (another) tattoo– of a snake biting into an apple and dripping blood as symbol of the fight women have done to enter into the world and leave the Garden of Eden with wisdom…? To celebrate Lilith, the first feminist goddess…? Do you think about a first tattoo…or another one as well?

–Or perhaps you want to see the Loch Ness monster—or at least try…I for one believe Nessie is real and think maybe I’ll see here, after all the ocean is our least explored frontier…?

–Or…finish that novel (parts of which have been published here in FAR)?

–Or maybe you want to visit Abiquiu where Georgia O’Keefe lived at Ghost Ranch  and do an empowerment retreat for women…maybe…?

–Or just celebrate that upcoming birthday in a grand style (such as walking through a line of 60 candles with witches around you calling in the directions and your friends wishing you well in the next decade)?

coastOur bucket lists allow us to dream, to make our lives bigger and more Divine…and yet…

This morning I took a new way to work and drove down the Coast and for half of the way (the way I would usually be stuck in bumper to bumper traffic) I was buffeted by sea breeze and palm trees. I have never taken this way to work and my wife has been telling me to take the Coast because she hates freeways and always drives that way if possible.

Usually the Coast takes a half hour longer—however with the new schedule I have, the traffic is so horrific I opted finally for the “longer” route—and, come to find out, the longer route is a better route! An extra half hour to take the Coast, even if the freeway is shorter —might be worth it in the end if it makes my life—more Divine.

moonI have been walking my dogs at night under the moon and stars and my suburban neighborhood looks so much more magical at night—and I have met the other nighttime dog walkers (I didn’t know they were out there until I went out there)!  The midnight joggers, and walkers…the veteran walking slowly with a walker at night taking his own time…and last night a woman training for a marathon in a wheel chair with wheels glittering with reflective lights. I met them and talked with them…all because I decided to walk the dogs at night.

doggiesI don’t have time during the day– I never seem to anyway (see paragraph above about commute). And now I look forward to my leisurely half hour under the stars with my “wanna be werewolves” as I call them…or rather Malibu and Collette and they also move from ordinary to Divine reality as their walk happens on a regular basis in moonlight and they meet the dogs of the night time community.

I have done yoga at the beach, in the park, at night, in the day, in a studio yes, but also in my office…standing on my head with the lights dimmed.

I have done yoga under the stars with my dogs running free…and every time I do yoga reality changes. I am reminded of the present moment as all the “momet” we really have.

As a yogi and a meditator and an old hippie J I spend a lot of time enjoying, hoping to enjoy, the present moment.

And yet—there is a bucket list.

The Bucket List:

I want to talk to Icelanders about their fairies and maybe see the Northern Lights. I want to finish my novel and also to just be in process with other writers at a coffee shop. I want to walk on the same ground as Georgia O’ Keefe and lie under the needle as I blaze into my skin my passion for women and religion. I want to get excited as I see a dark form and think…maybe that’s Nessie! I want all of that and –I can’t get it today.

But, creating it– the dream of it– is today. And living in a sacred way that is more magical than the ordinary life—can be today. I want that. I want to disrupt reality and have “heaven on earth,” if I can. I don’t want to wait until items on my bucket list set me free. I don’t want to live a life that I don’t like waiting for the bucket list items. And yet, I have a list.

Our personal heaven on earth may be our version of an evolving personal eschatology/ our version of heaven. And keeping a bucket list may be our version of a better “end times.” I believe the mix of the ordinarily sacred to quote Lynda Sexon and a bucket list of outside of our ordinary lives may be a good way to go as we traverse our lives decade by decade.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, and your bucket list items.

And–I’ll talk with you again soon– on the other side of sixty.


Marie CartierDr. Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.  She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013).  She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine. She is also a published poet and playwright, accomplished performance artist, scholar, and social change activist. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) and an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting), both from UCLA; and an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University.  She is co-chair of the Lesbian-Feminisms and Religion session of the national American Academy of Religion and co-chair at the regional level of the Queer Studies in Religion session, founder of the western region Queer Caucus, and a perma-blogger for Feminism and Religion. She is also a first degree black belt in karate, Shorin-Ryu Shi-Do-Kan Kobayashi style, and a 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified Hatha Yoga teacher.

Categories: Dreams and Dreaming, Feminism, General, Spirituality

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15 replies

  1. Thanks, Marie. Congrats on your 60th birthday!!

    I don’t have a list. But I love living what you call a “magical” way and which surprises me with experiences I wasn’t expecting, or learning things, I didn’t even know were possible before. Very special people can sometimes come into your life, too, and teach you amazing things. And that’s happened to me, gifted I think from above, or what I would call Tao.

    You mentioned Georgia O’Keeffe, so she comes to mind too. I met her once when I was young, and working at the Whitney Museum, and she had an exhibition there, and so we spent a couple of weeks working together setting up her exhibit. She was quite elderly then, but she taught me so many wonderful things. One of them was her intuitive sense of humor, also a lady with a very good self-image, and therefore open to people she met in that same appreciative way.


  2. I have ignored all of my decade birthdays, starting with 30 when I thought I was “over the hill.” Love that you celebrate yours. I am about to go on my first “vacation” in more than 20 years. Yes my whole life is a vacation of sorts, since I live in a vacation hot-spot. But to do something for “me” when there is no “we” is a step it is never too late to take. xxx and Happy Birthday!

    PS I think for me being single makes it hard to celebrate the decade birthdays, because the passing of years underscores “one’s” failure to find a partner.


    • Carol, like you I live solely. But reading your post brought to mind a conversation reported between two brilliant ballerinas, Margot Fonteyn and Natalia Makarova. Fonteyn noted how she loved dancing with a partner, and Makarova held up her hands, saying, “Oh, no!” “But,” said Fonteyn, “if you don’t dance with a partner, who do you dance with?” “I dance with the world,” said Makarova. And no one would ever, ever dispute that she did anything less than that. You dance with the world, Carol, and have touched so many lives. The applause may be harder to hear, but it is there.


  3. 60 is an important birthday……many blessings to you. I have often written and mused on what I like to call “a conversant world”…… I suppose “mythic mind” would be another way to put it, what Alice Walker called “The Universe Responds”. I used to experience that sense of immanent magic keenly……..I hope I will again.

    Bucket list……at 67 I live on social security and I have no heirs. I have 50 Masks of the Goddess that once travelled to communities around the country, an art world that does not take masks, or spiritual subject matter seriously, and I worry that they will never be seen again, that the end of the road for them is to be lost in a box somewhere. I am tormented by a sense of responsibility to the work I’ve done I guess.


    • I love the masks you have made! I have learned so much from them, and the stories and poems you posted about them on your webpage. I’m sorry the art world does not appreciate your work at this juncture in time, but you don’t know what will happen in the future. Your work is beautiful and powerful.


    • Perhaps you should start researching where you could donate them, for example herchurch in SF or the Goddess temple at Glastonbury of the Frauenmuseum in Germany. Maybe other readers have ideas?


      • Good request from Carol.

        Marie, you might try Cavin-Morris Gallery in NYC, and who focus also on the arts of masking. (cavinmorris.com) and they might be able not only to exhibit but also sell your work too.
        (212) 226-3768

        Their website says: “We have been exhibiting artists from around the world for 30 years. We specialize in the work of self-taught artists who make art independently of the art world canon. We represent past and new generations of self-taught artists whose work remains authentic and visionary. Our main focus is on what is commonly called Art Brut, Outsider, or non-mainstream art.”

        “We show an eclectic selection of tribal art from all the major regions of the world, focusing on the unusual and the formally surprising, but we especially focus on the arts of masking.”


  4. What an inspiring post! Cheering you on from the far side of sixty. Happy Birthday!


  5. Happy birthday! My only decade birthday that I remember was my 50th. A friend and I threw me a party. All women, and we created a magical circle. Instead of giving me gifts, my friends gave me wishes. I made a collage (which is hanging on my wall) of photos from my life, starting with a photo of my grandmother and my parents’ wedding picture, then photos of me as a child, through high school, college, graduate school, marriage, motherhood, work, and the publication of my first book. The collage ends with a big THANK YOU tp the world and the Goddess.


  6. Happy Birthday Marie! I like the idea of “crossing over with friends below and above the “60” road-mark. On my 60th I went to the little local airport and soared over our island in a glider. It was a totally different view. For the “70’s” I got a new knee and hip! My next decade will be entering my “80’s”. Thinking of getting a tattoo saying “D.N.R.” tattooed on my chest! :-) But mostly, I’m happy with the adventure of each day, learning to love my neighbours even when they annoy me, and enjoying having a dog who is a total flirt!


  7. An uplifting and empowering piece, just like you! :)


  8. Happy Birthday! I imagine that just about now you are readying for your celebration and I hope it is SPECTACULAR!


  9. Greeting from Nepal. I also love to say Happy Birthday!!!


  10. Happy 60th Birthday, Marie! I love your idea of gathering on the night before your birthday so that when the stroke of midnight comes, you can walk from one decade of your life into the next –in this case, into your sixties, surrounded by loving friends. I remember that last year, you wrote here about your 59th year, with a clear awareness of moving toward 60. Your bucket list is very lovely. I’ve seen the Northern Lights (while camping in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota,) and they are so breathtakingly beautiful. I absolutely think you must see them and especially, you must see them in Iceland!! Going to Iceland is on my bucket list, too, and even more now that I know that many people there believe in faeries, as do I. Bless you in your 60th
    year, Marie. May you take many magical moonlit walks with your doggies (I almost always walked Tallulah at night and we met all the other night people and night dogs in the neighborhood–it was great. So I say, take the Coast Hwy to work every day that you can and be open to/create everyday (or everynight!) sacred experiences as much as possible this year.❤️


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