I love lists. I make all sorts of them. Usually handwritten, and commonly portable: my lists must always travel with me wherever I go. I have inherited this from my father, Insane List Master Supeme. My best expressions of writing are shorthand registers scribbled on odd scraps of paper, receipts, restaurant bills, post-it notes (man's second largest contribution to humanity after plastic wrap), or any other writeable surface in my posession that can fit in my handbag or better yet, in my wallet. My house is one big artistic collection of shopping checklists, to-do lists, wishlists, books I want to read, restaurants I want to eat at, people I want to write actual pen&paper letters to, etc. My enumeration of duties, tasks and missions is boundless. The wall by the phone is decorated with an ever-expanding graffiti mural of useful numbers to grocery stores, ethnic cuisine takeaway, butcher, CSA, pharmacy, wine supplier, hairdresser, manicure, wax parlor, yoga class hours; and recently pediatrician, playgroup, car pool, etc. Many items of my Lists never get entirely crossed off, those that do make me feel like I’ve conquered monumental endeavors.
In a moment of deep emotional distress, around the age of 30something – time when perhaps others too draw a balance of life thus far - I found myself compiling one very important inventory of personal identity skills and resources. It was divided into two columns, on one side it rolled down quite a large number of abilities, led by my proficiency of several languages, professional competence, my aptitude for adapting easily to change, down to one-handed cartwheels and kissing. I guess I needed that list to see my accomplishments in black and white in a ridiculous attempt to perk myself up, but it didn't work very well because in the I AM NOT column, the first item listed was: a mother. Something my age, single status and a pesky ovarian cyst rendered highly unlikely.
Years have passed and I have lost that list. I'd be curious to scroll down it's silly contents now that so much water has flowed under the proverbial bridge. My job has taken me places both physical and emotional enough to orbit me to the moon and back; I have shed my skin a hundred times, re-inventing the new me each time like a phoenix from burning embers. I have traveled, banqueted, lived and loved like there was no tomorrow. I have managed gargantuan efforts and plummeted into deep chasms of solitude to be where I am now: a pretty lofty place surrounded by simplicity, beauty, art and family. Above all, my old aspiration entry n.1 is a definite check mark drawn with a fat red felt tip marker. The indelible kind that bleeds right through the stack of lists below.
Now that motherhood, maturity, life and a shred more wisdom have encouraged me to look at my existence with a smile, I no longer need to keep a record of lifetime goals.
But I do have a few more items still leftover from my Ultimate Wishlist, and they are:
1) Swim with a dolphin at open sea;
2) Scale Mt. Kilimanjaro, and from its snowy summit, gaze down at the birthplace of mankind;
3) Take a hot air balloon ride over a beautiful landscape;
4) Spend a pamper week alone in a yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia;
5) Wake up to the sound of a seagull’s raucus call and crashing waves (a long way of saying I want to move to the beach);
6) Learn to type with 10 fingers;
7) Get my sommelier certification degree;
8) Publish my first manuscript;
9) Grow my own produce and herbs in a vegetable garden;
10) Take a writing workshop vacation in a country I’ve never visited before;
11) Help build a school in Africa;
12) Take singing lessons;
13) Travel with my son to Australia and South America;
14) Learn Russian well enough to read Cechov and Dostoevskij in original;
15) Volunteer in a soup kitchen;
16) Repower my house with solar panels;
17) Lose about 20 pounds;
18) Make more lists