Confessions of a compulsive list-maker
Ever notice how someone else’s yard looks great, but your own is just a patch of weeds crying out for you to get to work? Strolling down one of our village streets recently I marveled at the profusion of wildflowers along the side of the road (and growing up through the road, given its deteriorating surface, but that’s another story). Poppies, lupine, and milkmaids were all mixed in with the high, brown grass. That’s what a country road ought to look like, I thought to myself. But if it were my driveway, I know I’d be out there with a weed whacker. That’s why I can never take a vacation and stay home at the same time. There are too many little jobs nagging at me. It’s too tempting to do something like balance the checkbook, make appointments, thin the fruit trees, clean the garage, wash the dog, unload the dishwasher, pay bills, fold laundry …
If you’re like me, you probably have about four or five pretty big commitments that you’re juggling, and no matter how efficient you are, you start to feel like you’re being pulled in five different directions at once. Sometimes I think my head is going to explode.
It really drives home the point that one of the most valuable things you can do is to do nothing at all. And one of the most valuable things in the world is free time, and I mean really free. Not an outing, no matter how fun it may be. Not a trip somewhere. Not going to a movie or out to dinner. You just need to sit and do absolutely nothing. Find a stone wall, sit on it, and watch the world go by, or flop down on the couch and stare at the ceiling. It’s kind of like when your computer freezes because there are too many programs running, and you have to shut down and wait a minute to restart, and that usually fixes the problem, whatever it was. Except that we’re not computers, and we need longer downtime.
I’m an inveterate list-maker. I have lists of lists: Go the bank, go to the grocery store (see list), pick up dry cleaning, etc. I rewrite my lists as things get crossed off. It’s a process of consolidation. Alec is always making fun of me with my lists scattered around the house. But once I commit something to paper I can let it out of my head. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good in that I’m organized. Bad in that I might misplace my list and have no idea what I’m supposed to do (hence the multiple back-up system). But one thing I do know – when I get that exploding head feeling, if I take some time to sit and do nothing, I always feel better. And then I sit down and get organized (How? A new list!) The amazing thing is that everything always gets done … eventually.