The Enlightenment of Lists
This delightful picture is two pages from a children’s book, Frog and Toad Together, one of a series of Frog and Toad books by Arnold Loebel. One of my coworkers, back when I worked as a librarian at a community college, had a photocopy of these two pages posted on the column above her typewriter. It was waaaay back in the day before the ubiquity of desktop computing, if you can imagine or remember such a time.
When I read it for the first time, I laughed. It was one of those crystallizing moments for me as a young adult. I realized my compulsion to make lists was not unique and I was not alone! And it was okay to make lists!
I make lists. People who don’t make lists find it perplexing and odd; and sometimes people find it tyrannical or micromanaging. For me, though, it helps organize my thoughts and my plans. A list gives me a clear trajectory for a period of time. I have found that lists can be magical, a spell to aid me in my day, my work, or just my thoughts.
In the past I have been a great worrier. I’d fret and worry about things that eventually never came to pass. Worry was robbing me of my present as I continually fretted over the future. Lists are one technique to dispel worry, at least for me. If I put it down on a list, it becomes concrete and I can handle it at a specified time…sometimes ‘when I get around to it.’ Somehow writing it down on a list makes it something I can handle and put out of my present mind. It’s amazing how creative you can become when you are not preoccupied with worry.
A lot of times, I don’t look at the list because I think I remember everything. And then I will discover an old list and I’ve done most of it anyway…or I haven’t and it didn’t matter. Then I can cross it off my list.
Crossing things off the list is a great act of magic, empowerment, and accomplishment. Even some minutiae is ‘list worthy’ just so you can cross it off. That’s part of the reason I have found the picture above so funny. I understand so completely the feeling of accomplishment in crossing off the routine, the small, and the large milestones in our lives. It is a tiny commemoration of a moment.
May your day be free from worry and full of commemorations and accomplishments, large and small!