I’m a list maker. I would be lost without my lists. My life is organized by a complex web of To-Do lists that allow my mind some freedom and ease. I have categorized lists for short-term tasks and long-term endeavors, lists of tasks that require follow-up but no direct action, lists that separate and cross-reference important and urgent tasks, and my favorite…lists that refer to other lists.
It works for me. By most standards, I would be considered very productive – not much falls through the cracks on my watch.
Or does it?
My lists are robust and comprehensive – that much I know. But, I realized the other day that I could learn more about myself and my life if I considered the things that don’t make it onto my To-Do lists.
For example, I have never written a To-Do list like this:
1) Smell the flowers
2) Be grateful for 5 things today
3) Scan the night sky for falling stars
4) Try something new
5) Laugh yourself silly with a few of your closest friends
6) Pick an old friend at random and call them
7) Do something that scares you
8) Turn off your iPhone…indefinitely
9) Eat at least one meal today thoughtfully
10) Be kind
I would venture to say these things are just as important as that report I had to write last week, and definitely more important than my hair appointment at 6:00 on Thursday.
I have also realized that my To-Do lists keep me in a comfortable and scripted place when it comes to my daily life. I can live the illusion that I know what’s next. I can form expectations and feel like I have some control over how my day goes. All of this makes me feel safe as I stroll merrily and confidently through this life.
But if life (and Twitter) have taught me anything, it’s that it’s more fun when you let Serendipity in. She’s a slippery muse with a twisted sense of humor, but she’s that friend that leads you down a dark alley in the middle of the night to see the full moon in all its glory. She forces you out of your comfort zone and often rewards you with new understandings and adventures.
So, while I don’t envision my overall To-Do list making to change much as a result of this realization (there’s just too much to get done), I do think it was a worthy reminder. I plan to step out of the gushing flood of To-Do’s each day to give Serendipity the time and space to join me. I’ve tried to send her an Outlook calendar invite, but she’s never responded. So, until then, you may find me leaning against a lamp post on the corner or resting on a blanket in the park waiting to see what she might have in store for me…