Beware the List

March 4, 2010 § 1 Comment

E.O. Schaub

Sometimes it’s really hard to embrace the randomness of life. Personally, I’m a list person. A schedule person. A goal person. There’s nothing I like better than a week that goes just according to plan, with every “i” dotted, every “t” crossed, and every list item checked… nothing fudged, forgotten or forsaken. If you’re being polite you could call me “Type A,” and if you’re not being polite lets just leave speculation on my patootie out of this, shall we?

I guess it all goes back to that great feeling I used to get bringing home a really good report card. It was as if I held in my hand solid, tangible evidence that life was, in fact, going according to plan.

It took me a truly ridiculous amount of time to figure out that a straight-A report card is not proof that you are winning the game of life, or even that all is right with the world. Nowadays I have, perhaps, a slightly more healthy perspective on this, but I still adore lists. And I’m getting better at them. Listening to the time-management gurus, I make them shorter, more definitive, and budget time ever more realistically. Then, right about when I’m feeling pretty good about myself and my alphabetized spice cabinet, an extra-terrestrial lands in my backyard wishing to broker an intergalactic peace treaty and I promptly blow a gasket and shriek “I don’t have time for this!! The dishwasher is broken, the dog is coughing up squirrel parts, and I’m supposed to be at my “Underwater Flower Arranging” class in thirteen minutes!” Okay, so I guess we can pretty much leave “going with the flow” off my resume.

But whenever I’m feeling frazzled and stressed-out- which is pretty much every forty-seven seconds or so- I try to remind myself to try to be conscious of the fact that life is short and easy to take for granted, something that lists and straight “A”s belie. That is to say, how can I claim to be having a bad week because my list isn’t getting checked off, or the kids are coughing like coal-miners, or the laundry continues to insist on not staying done, when I personally know three different people being treated for cancer right now?

Yeah, that’s enough to slap some perspective right into you, isn’t it? That’s enough freaking perspective to choke a horse. At least it should be. But Life goes on, rushing about, telling you to worry about the small shit, and pretty soon, before you know it, you’re making a list. For my part, I’m just trying to include the occasional extra item on there these days: Take Out Compost. Call Vet. Enjoy Life. Buy Eggs.

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