I believe in making a list.
I believe, the act of the list, this commitment of partaking in life, in this I believe lay great importance.
I believe that it is important to have commitments, obligations, and goals. The list is proof that we are willing to engage, take risks, fail and succeed.
Lists are honest.
Lists are sloppy. Written on memo pads, the back of unpaid bills, across newspaper headlines, on fine watermarked paper, lists are small life snippets, little bits and pieces about the status of who we are.
Lists are necessary.
They get lost. They get re-written and ignored. But from that moment in which the list is in my head, on a sheet of paper, in the computer, wherever, I have been given the keys to a map. From this list, I know where to go.
Getting what’s done on the list is, of course, another matter.
Lists can be avoided.
Lists can be revised. I believe a great positive to a list is its flexibility. Lists allow for adaptation. Lists invite rearrangements of priorities. Lists can also disappoint.
I am not an organized person. I cannot remember times to be places, phone numbers or birthdays. But on my desk, there is a list on a Post-It note that reminds me that to call a friend in a nursing home, I need dill, I owe another friend money for teachers’ holiday gifts, I need to create a brochure for my husband’s new business, and I need ink.
The small satisfactory act of crossing something off a list offers me a humble fleeting feeling of completion. Accomplishing what is on my lists is never really done. The little scribble, the crossing out, the checking off, these are my own personal private pats on the back.
Lists illustrate a profile. Doctor’s appointments. Freelance jobs. Applications forms. Birthday presents.
Every so often I run across a list, tucked in a book I’ve read, shoved down the crease of my car cushion, crumbled inside my purse.
For a moment, as I glance down and reread these little chapters of my life. I always have the same reaction. It’s a little chuckle. A “hrumph.”
Making a list connects. It is a ticket to navigate my wide world. And reflecting back, I believe it gives me clarity on how small and humbling it is.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.