Lists can be tools of meaning, not task

I'm not overly impressed with lists — or the rapid growth of listiness.

It's not that I don't have several running lists at any given time. My phone even has a (not) handy task list app so I can make a list of to-dos for every facet of my multidimensional life. There's the household list, the work list, the shopping list.

I look at those lists, maybe, once a week.

Lists, for me, have become part of that spiraling chaos. A sign of time that rushes by so fast I miss out on the meaning of most of the moments. I think, 'If I just write all this stuff down, maybe someday I'll be able to do it all, at once.'

The lists were supposed to reduce stress. Give order. Record progress. Enhance memory.

But I was so overwhelmed with the lists that I wasn't looking at them.

Turns out I would rather use lists to record memories than advance the notion a successful day depends on marking through my notes with a Sharpie — crossing four things off only to add five or six back on.

It's not that I'm giving up. I'm shifting perspective.

I can use lists to help remember things without obsessing over completion.

I have one list I love — my summer list.

Nothing gets scratched off, because it's a record of summer experience, not meant to complete.

This summer my old favorites — including 'read a book,' 'plant flowers,' 'organize a cookout,' and 'visit the downtown market,' — appear alongside the new and unexpected, including 'teach the youngest of our clan how to ice skate,' 'have a sprinkler play day,' and 'make aprons.'

At summer's end I'll have notes to guide our memories of this summer experience — and I might decide to turn a new page and record fall.