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The Bucket List Reaction Paper

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    “You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls go to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others. ” This quote came from Carter Chambers, played by Morgan Freeman in the movie “The Bucket List. ” The Bucket List is a movie about two men who meet in the cancer ward and are roommates. Both men form an unlikely friendship as they come from different walks of life.

    One is a very wealthy man, the other, a mechanic who worked his whole life to support his family. They are both diagnosed with cancer and are given less than a year to live. Carter Chambers is the mechanic and Edward Cole (played by Jack Nicholson) is the corporate billionaire who owns the hospital they meet in. Carter begins writing a “bucket list. ” The bucket list is a list of things he would like to do before he “kicks the bucket”. Edward finds Carter’s bucket list and decides to add to it and help him fulfill his wishes before he dies.

    Carter’s bucket list consisted of simple wishes such as “help a complete stranger, “find joy in your life”, “laugh until I cry” and “witness something truly majestic”. When Edward revised the list he added things on like skydiving, getting tattoos and traveling to different places around the world. Together they both set off to begin crossing things off the list. While in Cairo, the two men sat on top of a pyramid and began discussing the meaning of life and what the ancient Egyptians did when they died.

    That is when Carter’s quote came into play. As he was telling Edward the story about the Egyptians, he asked Edward “have you found joy in your life? ” “Has your life brought joy to others? ” Edward hesitates a bit and then proceeds that tell Carter about his estranged daughter whom he had lost contact with years ago. This quote can be viewed in many different philosophical ways. The first thing that came to mind was Artistotle. Aristotle said that happiness and joy were the most important things to strive for in life.

    He believed that happiness was intrinsically good, which meant that we do not seek happiness in order to gain something from it, besides happiness in itself. Carter’s character was more focused on finding joy through meaningful relationships, such as family and valuable friendships. Edward’s character was more focused on fulfilling what was on the bucket list itself. Through their journey, Carter was able to put things in his life into perspective that although he had seen and done all of these amazing things, what was most important and what brought him the most joy, was being with his wife and family.

    Carter tried to convince Edward to do the same when they returned from their vacation, and try to reconnect with his daughter. Edward became angered by this and said that he thought the bucket list was written “just for fun” and nothing about it was going to change him as a person or the decisions he had made in the past. When Carter arrives back home to his family, he is dying with joy because he has hope, while Edward has neither joy nor hope and is still living a materialistic lonely life. In Carter’s final moments, Edward rushes to his side. Carter’s wife then gives Edward a letter from Carter.

    In the letter, Carter thanks Edward for being a good friend and for giving him the opportunity to fulfill things he never thought he would have the opportunity to see or do before he died. At the very end of the letter, he urges Edward, once again, to reconnect with his daughter. After Carter passes, Edward does indeed go and reconcile with his daughter and meets his granddaughter for the first time. It is then when Edward is able to find the true meaning of life before he dies. He realizes that material things and luxurious experiences around the world in the end, is not what matters.

    He discovered that the meaning of life is to find joy and happiness in the people around you. At the beginning of the movie, all Edward had was his corporation, money and personal assistant. Those things were not what made him happy, but finally by fulfilling Carter’s last wishes he was able to find the joy he had never seen beyond his wealth. The same joy Carter had his whole life, living with very little other than a family who loved him and he loved as well. This movie touches very much on ethics and the meaning of life.

    There is also a correlation with this movie and Socrates quote “the unexamined life is not worth living. ” This quote goes well with the plot of the movie in the fact that both men still had a lot of learning to do before they passed away. Edward needed to learn the value of relationships and how to find joy in things that did not require money. Where as Carter had not lived a life beyond being a mechanic and being a husband and father and so therefore his life could also be viewed as unexamined as well. In the end, they both were able to find the meaning of life.

    The quote also can be viewed also as a form of utilitarianism. When Carter asks if his life has brought joy to others this could be viewed as utilitarian in the fact that finding joy in your own life is just as important as others finding joy in your life. What have you done not only for yourself but for the joy of others? What in your life might generate the greatest net good for the greatest number of people? This was a very good question to ask someone, especially someone like Edward who being a powerful public figure could in fact bring the greatest amount of joy to the greatest amount of people.

    I believe that this is a very great quote to live by and I believe if society embraced this idea, the world would probably be a lot different than it is today. If we all asked ourselves “have you found joy in your life, has your life brought joy to other people? ” the world may be a much kinder place to live. Many of us, including myself take life for granted. We are so focused on the insignificant and trivial things in life that we really miss the true meaning about why we were here. We miss the fact that life isn’t always about work or money or material things.

    Even the richest people in the world miss the true meaning of life until they discover what happiness really is. Happiness comes from within, but it also comes from the people and the world around us. We must ask ourselves this: If I were to die tomorrow, would people say I lived a joyful life? Would people say I brought joy unto other’s lives? We don’t think about those things on a daily basis. If society were to ask themselves those two questions everyday, we may think twice about the things we do and say to others.

    We may think twice about what is worth being upset about and what is not. We may think twice about whether we are living life to our highest potentialities. We may think about how our attitude about life can impact the people around us. Are we happy with ourselves and how we live? Do we spread happiness to others, or does our negativity about things in life rub off on others? This movie was truly inspiring and I believe that we should not wait until we die to question whether or not we have joy in our life or whether our lives are bringing joy to others.

    It is crazy to think that these questions don’t cross our minds until we watch a movie like this and find the deep philosophical meaning behind it. This movie and especially this particular quote has now brought me to this question: If I were to die tomorrow, what would people say about the kind of person I was and what would people say I did to impact the lives of others? It is hard to believe that one quote in a movie or an idea of a movie could be so moving, but like I said, we are so wrapped up in the trivial things in life that sometimes we forget to stop, breathe and look at the big picture.

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