Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Living by the List

            For as long as I can remember, I’ve started my day with a list. Used to be I couldn’t fall asleep until everything was crossed off. These days, I still make the list; I’m just not as hard on myself if something rolls over till tomorrow.
            It’s not that I’m any less “type A” than usual. It’s just here of late (call it age; call it life) I’ve come to realize and even accept that the more meaningful moments in life happen in between the items on my list and very often in spite of them. Certain things may take me away from my “to do’s” and when they do, I now stop and take note, as I’ve come to realize that the things that take me off point usually come with some sort of gift.
            Case in point: today’s list included several bills to pay…several errands to run. Nowhere on the list was “cry with a girl on her way to chemo who’s missing her daddy” or “stop to love on Rosey’s pups that don’t live here anymore” …
            In other words, it’s the things that don’t make the list that make for life. Trick is, to forego the list sometimes to make time and space for those things to happen.
            Metaphysicians like Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer both refer the “gap between our thoughts” which, (by their definition) is where God resides. By their definition (which I tend to think true), our brains think thoughts for a living, the same way our hearts pump blood or our kidneys filter toxins. It’s the job of our brains (as the organ in our head) to think things, but it’s what’s in between our thoughts that let us know that we are not our thoughts but instead, we are the observer of these things we’re thinking.
            It’s very easy to identify with our thoughts and assume our thoughts are who we are. Likewise, it’s easy to identify with our lists of “to do’s” thinking this is what makes for a life.
            Much as I love a totally checked off list, I’ve never found my list to fulfill me as a person. Instead, I’ve come to discover that my greatest joys in life never come from something listed then checked off, but from something never intentionally put on the list in the first place that makes its way into my day, bringing with it some unique gift or insight that I otherwise could not take credit for having created.
            I’m pretty certain my drive to make a list every morning will be with me always. No longer do I fight it. To the contrary, thanks to lists I get a lot done. But I have learned to forgive myself when something not on the list makes its way into my day and takes me off point. There are moments in every day when going strictly by the list would take me down a notch and have me missing some of life’s most precious gifts.
Seldom (if ever) does “meaningful” happen from my list. More times than not, the meaningful moments of my day happen in spite of it.

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