Many people have a “bucket” list, one that includes all the things they would like to do before they die: perhaps visit the Pyramids in Egypt, walk where Jesus walked in Jerusalem, buy a hotdog at Wrigley field baseball park, shoot an elk, and so on. I don’t have such a list; instead I have come up with a “chuck it” list.
A ‘chuck-it’ list is comprised of all the things that I wanted to do, or thought that I wanted to do, but now do not want to do. And I have some delightful things to chuck.
First on my list is writing a grand Kewa ethnography. I had visions of hundreds of pages of outstanding descriptions of the early life of the Kewa people, complete with hundreds of photos (black and white of course) that I took over many years. There were to be early accounts of Kewa rituals, often with accompanying voicer-overs and appropriate music; also pages and pages of genealogical accounts. It would have been stunning, but I have chucked it.
A related and subsequent action is to chuck my detailed and awe-inspiring description of the whole Engan language family, of which Kewa is a part. Gone are the word lists, the verb paradigms, the reflexes and cognates, the pages and pages of notes. Lost forever are the beautiful illustrations of semantic shifts, phonological rules, the charts of tone contrasts and assimilations. It was to be the finest of the fine, the cream of the proto-crop. But the cream has now soured and I must chuck it.
Next is all the tapes, cassettes, flash-drives and disks that hold language materials—a stunning array just waiting for someone to acknowledge the treasure trove and proclaim it to the waiting public. Alas, there is no public waiting and they must now become digital ashes.
Having gotten those language related schemes off my back and into the chuck-it bucket, I am looking at some other worthy chuck-it specimens.
We have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of old photos. They span the sixty years we have been married and go back into the dusty and dusky past. They were once to be outlined carefully into decades of development, years of history, mountains of information, all available, but with little likelihood of any avid readers or viewers. The wedding photos (6 volumes), the village photos, the travel photos, the family photos, the dog photos—name it and we shot it. But now we are chucking it so that the city of Waco can recycle these priceless stuffs.
It is also about time that I chucked our out-of-date medicine. I keep thinking I will need our 1976 malaria pills and my 1982 eye drops, the various (old) tubes of ointment, plastic bags of pills, and old band aids lying around that all seem to have expired or turned yellow as well? So, with the blessing of my family, I will chuck them. But not the Vicks, it never goes bad.
I should go through my tools and chuck some too: I have 68 screwdrivers, 23 files, 7 saws, 5 sets of wrenches, three hand drills, and so on. Surely 20 screwdrivers will be enough. Somehow, tools seem too heavy to chuck.
Then there is my painting paraphernalia—tubes of paint, half tubes, quarter tubes, empty tubes. There are two inch brushes, one inch, half inch and quarter inch. There are round brushes and square brushes, bushy ones and flat ones. Brushes everywhere, but never quite the right one. Probably best to chuck them all and start over.
There are also Christmas decorations to chuck: We have a small tree, but with 221 bells, whistles, snowmen, Santas and other momentums, it seems overdone, even to my wife. There are also 32 strings of Christmas tree lights, none of which work, but I feel we should keep them in case we eventually might find a bulb or two that will still light up. No, I think it is time to chuck.
Now I must get more personal: shirts, shorts, shoes, socks, pants and coats must also be chucked. Here the chucking will be into plastic bags for the Salvation Army, Goodwill and missionary boutique. But chuck I must—far too long I have preached on simplicity while living lavishly (for a missionary). Of course I’ll clean out the pant’s pockets and wash the shorts and socks first because what I chuck may become some homeless man’s luck (and to be poetical: it won’t cost him a buck).
The most difficult items to chuck are my books, although I have gotten rid of many of them. Notice I ‘get rid of’ my books, I don’t really chuck them. That would be inhuman and distasteful, for the books are like old friends and many of them I still want to keep around. I promise to keep working on purging more of them, but please don’t hold me to it.
Another difficult “chuck it” detail is my involvement with the West Kewa Old Testament project. This would be one of the hardest one to get rid of, and I’m not sure I can do it. For over a dozen years I have poured money and time into seeing the OT completed, but it has not happened. I have written to the indigenous authors, cajoling them to be leaders and partners in this phenomenal project. There has been some interest and lots of promises but not much else. Should I chuck-it? Don’t say yes unless you have been involved in something that long!
There are of course other things I don’t want to chuck: my wife, my children, my grandchildren, even Pretzel, the family dog, There are certain shoes that I like and some other things that I wear often because they are comfortable and help identify who I am. That might be a problem.
Anyway, that is my chuck-it start-up list and I think it will be far easier to accomplish than any bucket list.