This is a love story. It’s more than a distraction. It’s an antidote.
It’s Sunday morning and I’ve been awake for a while. I tossed and turned a bit last night and since before the sunrise I’ve been working on releasing some annoying physical pain. Sometimes that works better than at other times. And sometimes I think you just have to go with it and let it be a pathway.
Sunday mornings are nice. There is no rush. There’s time to listen to the birds. I can make a decision about what to do for breakfast, whether to lie in bed and read, whether I’ll go to church in the morning or do other things and go to the evening service. It’s a day when I remember to take time ahead of the working week. And it’s a day where I can think about the pathway.
But today I’m not so much thinking about the pathway as one of the tools that gets me there…lists.
I’ve learned to embrace lists as guidance, as storage (for my memory), as a pat on the back (I’ll add things I’ve already done or packed or put in the trolley so I can get that tick on the page…so easily pleased!). I no longer use the to do list to capture the angst of too much work or to reinforce the frustrations of never enough time. Lists can be so much kinder than that.
Although there was one list that wasn’t kind. It originated in my late teens and extended into my twenties. It was a list that literally made me hungry with desires that just could not be met.
You see I can be quite the creature of habit and when I find something I like I tend to stick with it. And this can be true of food. And it used to drive me insane that the supermarket would stop stocking what I liked. I would accuse my best friend of adding my favourite things to the imaginary list, which she allegedly provided to her supermarket employer who would then take the item off the shelves purely to annoy me. Of course this wasn’t true but it was nice to have the list to blame! I still miss the taste and ease of cream of corn soup…a bit of a staple for a while in my university days.
There is a famous list for older days (you can see it in the picture above), penned by Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathon Swift. It’s aspirational…but if you ask me it has too many “nots”. He seems to have a bit of an issue with love and young woman, though I like the inclusion of knavish tattling servants, just because the word knavish is fun to say. Why don’t we see it common usage now? There’s those abound that are knavish!
When I come to be old. 1699.
Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, &c.
Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.
Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants, or others.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
To desire some good Friends to inform me wch of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform accordingly.
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, &c.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.
In my early thirties I partook in another aspirational list, one that was much more fun than that of Mr Swift and certainly one which went from aspiration to action. It was the Friday night list at a Canberra pub called the Contented Soul (with a name like that it’s got to be more than a bit player in a good tale right?). And upon this list were the songs that you could request the local troubadour play. We were creatures of habit here too. There was the drinking of many tankards of beer. The odd mead for those of us who were part of the pirate gang. The delicious concoction of butterscotch schnapps and Baileys, which I will not call by name but note that it does involve cowboys. The “cocaine dance” performed late in the evening accompanied by singing Slowhand style. But first up would be the chorus of “The list! The list!” that would announce our arrival and set our intentions for the evening. That was a list I loved!
Here’s another great list, 7 historical figures famous for something they never did:
1. Abner Doubelday – for inventing baseball
2. Lady Godiva – for riding a horse naked
3. Nero – for fiddling while Rome burned
4. Marie-Antoinette – for the quip “let them eat cake”
5. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin – for inventing the guillotine
6. George Washington Carver – for inventing peanut butter
7. Betsy Ross – for making the first American flag.
Poor George, I imagine there’s a lot of money in peanut butter. It’s a great invention. We can count ourselves lucky it never made it to the supermarket list and disappeared off the shelves!
So it’s time for a new list, a third iteration of life reflecting and influencing words numbered down a page. A list that will capture my heart, my time, for which I will gladly make allowances and which will grow with me. A list that allows me to love and be loved. A list that will contain the best of things…
Okay so now that I’ve penned this little missive on lists I’ve lost enthusiasm for it, but in deference to it providing a pathway to my day and in the spirit of lists of good guidance, let it at least have a start…
A tasteful beginning!