A To-Do List

Tomorrow I will run on the beach. The 9th year of a personal tradition for New Year’s Day. Today I will try to tick off some of the things on my to-do list before I head back to work, and into a new year.

I write lists. And sometimes I find them lying around the house. On the backs of envelopes – which seems to be the thing we all do – or on clean sheets of paper, elaborately detailed with handmade calendars. There are ghosts of electronic lists on my google calendar and google task apps.

Sometimes it is jarring to stumble on an old list and see the number of things never ticked off, and completely forgotten. Shifting priorities that leave huge swaths of forgotten ambitions. I wonder if somewhere there is a realm of follow-through, where curtains have been hemmed, shelves rearranged, grout scrubbed, and books written. My lists are aspirational. The documentation of passing whims. Like screenshots of the possible iterations of my life – that I dropped like a high school crush when someone else showed an interest in me. It was easier: there. An “at least” guaranteed.

I am really good at living fully in the moment. It can be overrated.

At this moment, I have a half-painted hallway. I have a pile of clean laundry dumped on a chaise lounge whose cushions I have not seen in months. I have hand-drawn boxes for these things on a list on the back of an envelope: Wash the moss off the deck before I slip and break a bone. Set up the flooring in the outdoor yoga space. Write a book of haibun.

Maybe this awful memory of mine is a blessing. I forget what I have done, yes, but along with what I had planned to do. I avoid looking back to see what I have done in the past year – the past decade. I do remember thinking at the turn of last year, that I might write a memoir. I put it on a list. Then found myself wondering if I really wanted to dig there, touch that.

I have a title in mind. That’s what is on my to-do list now and maybe this time next year, I will see it and not have a clue what the words refer to. That entire perspective will slip into the other realm. That entire narrative. That entire life.

There is a radical freedom in choosing what things to follow through on.  What things to remember.

In choosing perspectives that can make sense of the series of choices we made. Make.

I would like to think that – that we have a radical freedom to decide who we really are. What we can do with what life has done with us.

But when I fall asleep at night, my heart rate doubles, and only slowly climbs down over the course of the night. There’s a memoir being written.

There is a long list of things still pending – there below the surface of waking moments.