I was in fourth grade when I first read about Stonehenge, and I immediately put it on my bucket list even though I didn’t even know what a bucket list was back then. Living in a rural Minnesota town, I found it awkward trying to explain Stonehenge and my enthusiasm for visiting it. My teacher listened to my earnest commentary with a smile pasted on her face – the one that someone puts on when they think whatever you’re saying is crazy.
That was forty-five years ago.
As of last week, visiting Stonehenge has been officially crossed off my bucket list. Twice.
The first day I went to Stonehenge I went on the hop-on/hop-off bus. It leaves you at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre which houses displays (plus a cafe and bathrooms) that explain the site’s history, give a sample of the unearthed treasure and other objects, and show life-sized reconstruction of period living spaces. Then you join several hundred other tourists and get on a free shuttle that takes you one a half miles away to the actual megalith itself.
But I wanted something more.
Don’t get me wrong – even in the company of a couple hundred strangers and being restricted to a footpath that only gets you to about within 35 feet of the stones, Stonehenge is impressive. For me, however, it just wasn’t enough.
So the next day I visited again. This time I had made reservations with English Heritage and paid £45 for a crack-of-dawn Stone Circle Access tour at 5:30 a.m. Each Stone Circle Access group is limited to a maximum of 30 individuals who are allowed to wander among the stones (no touching!) for an hour.
It was magnificent.
I posted an article on stone megaliths, including Stonehenge, three years ago, and everything I wrote then still holds; I have no new information or insight to offer. Visiting Stonehenge wasn’t about gaining knowledge, it was all about being and experiencing.
Because that’s what a bucket list is – things that you want to do or to achieve or to experience for yourself, rather than just learn about. Actually, maybe doing, achieving and experiencing are a different type of learning – a much deeper learning than can be gotten from reading a book or watching a video. It’s a type of visceral learning, one that stays with you.
Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it? And why is it important for you to experience it for yourself rather than just watch a video on it? What makes the items on our bucket lists different than other interesting or exciting life experiences?
Today I have a lot of questions, but not many answers.