I don't make lists like I used to. Compiling lists was, for many years, a regular part of the routine, particularly each Saturday morning so I didn't squander the weekend on the couch, eating bon bons and reading. A carefully crafted list gave me the illusion I was in control. If an item was on the list, it was as good as done.
Of course, an important part of the list-making process was the inclusion of at least a handful of items I knew would be easily accomplished, that would practically get done as a matter of course, so that by Sunday evening, as I lay about reading, or more likely watching television, with my bucket of bon bons resting on my stomach, I could cross them out with a satisfying stroke of the pen.
I once made lists of:
-- trivial to-dos
-- aspirational life goals
-- heartfelt, sometimes desperate, resolutions - New Year's and otherwise
-- pros and cons for whatever decision loomed (to divorce or not divorce, quit or not quit . . . )
-- food items and calories consumed in service of the perennial diet
-- things to do to take my mind off eating
-- friends, to make me feel less alone
-- enemies, to remind me to watch my back
-- books and stories I would one day write
I don't do all this listing anymore, or rarely. And when I do, it's a half-assed effort. Two or three items on a grocery list that I wind up misplacing before I hit the market. When did I stop? And why? Is it because:
-- I'm old and with most of the kids gone there is less to keep track of
-- I have more faith that I won't forget
-- I've figured out other ways to keep track of things
-- It became embarrassing to list the same unrealized goals, resolutions, books to write etc., year after year
-- I no longer sweat the small stuff, or, by appearances, the big stuff either
There's some truth to all of the above. Back in the days when I worked sixty-plus hours a week, had multiple kids at home and still hoped to make something of myself one day, it seemed important to keep it all straight. Looking through old journals, I came across one particularly methodical list from the years before I retired. It's a list of lists, separated into four categories:
Physical, "superficial" Priorities (items on this list included getting a hair cut and learning how to apply makeup)
I still haven't learned how to apply makeup, daily flax has gone by the wayside and the self doubt thing, well, who would I be without it? I did acquire a pretty decent miniature chair collection, though I can't now recall why that once seemed important.
Dorothy, author of GRAY IS THE NEW BLACK, blogs about the challenges and opportunities of being a woman and a writer of a certain age in a youth-centric universe.