Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Life Lists

A few weekends ago, The Executioner (referred to from here-on-out as TE in this post [except in one place where I feel the full name is needed]) and I were up visiting my family.  I saw something, and it disturbed me - so, naturally I decided to share it with anyone reading this.  I couldn't sleep and was walking around the house, reliving memories of days of my youth.  I heard something that sounded like muffled screaming coming from my parents' bedroom so opened... just kidding - let's not go there.

Seriously now - my father owns a small slice of heaven in my eyes - he has this cabin that is in the middle of a bunch of woods, no neighbors to see in any direction.  The place has running water from a spring when the land isn't frozen, and an outhouse completes the glorious experience.  TE and I were invited up to spend part of each day there while we visited.  We talked, enjoyed the beautiful outdoors, and just relaxed.  That for my father in and of itself is quite impressive - the man is always in motion, thinking, and more so - DOING.  But, when the weather is right and he's at this place, he relaxes and it is so nice to be a part of.

As we were up there, I noticed (one of) my father's always-on-hand To-Do list.  The thing deserves a Wiki entry all to itself, it is that impressive.  I can't remember a time in my life when I would climb into his car and there wasn't a To-Do list on the passenger seat or on the console.  He has the 'current To-Do' list, that one lives in the car most of the time; the 'Work To-Do' list; the 'Cabin To-Do' list, and I am sure he has more.  He puts EVERYTHING on his lists too - I haven't looked recently, but wouldn't be overly surprised if I saw 'wake up' on his list... just so he could cross it off.  As I looked at the list, many things seemed appropriate.  There were things like 'fix spring line' and 'move wood from cradle 3 to cradle 4' and things like that.  Additionally (this must have been 'Current To-Do'), there were things like 'balance checkbook'.  All tasks I deem appropriate for a To-Do list.  However, a few items have left me reeling.  One was 'Visit The Executioner and Spicy Princess' and one was 'Watch Duke & Louisiana'.  SERIOUSLY?!?!  You have to put 'hang out with your child who you haven't seen in over 2 months' on a list to make sure that it will get done?  Or, is it that you put it on there so you can cross it off and say 'phew - lived through that, glad its done!'?  I have a hard time wrapping my head around a college basketball game being something that he feels he MUST endure.  Either way - I have been left thinking about To-Do lists.

I have been known to make a list.  Mine are electronic, of course, and I do find power in collecting my many tasks into one common document when life is getting a little crazy.  I realized after that visit, that I don't want to feel it necessary to write down tasks I enjoy onto a to-do list to make sure they are accomplished.  I wonder - if my dad hadn't written these items down, would he have not done it?  Would he have forgotten?  Would he have deemed something more important - such as balancing his checkbook?  Would he have felt compelled to do one of the tasks on his list, simply because it was there and 'hang out with family' wasn't?

In that moment of seeing this list - I realized how different I am from him.  He is defined by work, defined by what he gets done on a daily basis.  I am not.  I see myself as many things, and if pressed to list them in order, my occupation would not be in the top 5.  Seeing that was like the saying "stop and smell the roses" - for me it was a reminder to embrace each day.  I don't want to be defined by a list - whether it is a list of what I got done or what I failed to get done.  I want to be able to enjoy life and wake up each day, be grateful for the day, my health, and my loved ones, and take it from there.  I have thought about this frequently since our visit and today I returned to the thoughts on To-Do lists - today was a gorgeous spring day and I would have loved to take my dogs for a long walk, join TE and friends in playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee, or even just sat outside and read my book.  But, my To Do list said I had to jump on a plane and travel for work.

I look forward to when my To-Do list has items on it that are key to helping us live, and are enjoyable tasks.  I also look forward to when there are very few items on my To-Do list, meaning that living life is really at its fullest. 

7 comments:

  1. Great post! It is a shame, but I know some people just can't remember what it is they need to do without the list. I'm hoping that it was put on the list as a reminder that "Hey, I've been meaning to do this but have gotten busy with other things and kept forgetting to make time for it." I tend to forget to get some things done that I said I would and that's because I don't keep any kind of list at all except in my head. Probably not the most efficient way of doing things.

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    1. I agree - there are definitely times for lists. Although, when I think back to some of those things that I've forgotten to do, I wonder how crucial they really were. If I forget to do something for a friend - they remind me. If I forget to do it for myself, was it really something that I had to do in order for my life to continue on as is or was it just a nice/want-to-do? If those people who can't remember what they need to do without a list didn't have one, what would they be doing? Could the list actually be stifling them, instead of making them more effective?

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  2. I rarely make lists like this but I seem to always have a mental one nagging me with things I should be doing, especially things for work. It will be nice to put that one to rest one day and only have the list of things that revolve around our personal lives (and not someone else's list of priorities).

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    1. Interesting to hear that you have a mental list - although it is about work which might be why I don't know you have this mental list... not the type of thing you would want to recount at home. Out of the two of us, I feel like I am always the one saying "I need to do this, I should be doing that, I need to find time to do blah." Whereas I think of you as being the type to just DO it - you don't put it on a list, you just do it. I've always been impressed by the way you just jump into doing something, whereas I seem to put it on a list and let it build momentum on its own for a while!

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  3. Really enjoyed this post because of the progression of awareness it detailed in living a more aware and meaningful life. What I've discovered since retiring, is that while I do continue to appreciate having a To-Do list, I appreciate even more having the luxury to ignore it entirely on any given day I so choose. That truly feels like the best of both worlds.

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    1. Your wording is perfect! I will probably have items on an actual or mental To-Do list, but I will also have the 'luxury to ignore it entirely on any given day' - that is what I am looking forward to! Until then, I will get items on my To-Do list done that impact money coming my way, and remember to live in the moment the rest of the time.

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  4. Just found your site thru OFB and have to say that this post gave me a good giggle this AM as I read the first paragraph - thanks. :-). Funny how some are so incredibly goal/task oriented, isn't it? I'm a list-maker, but not quite to the extent that your father is.

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