Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Mighty, Mighty List

I’ve always been a list keeper in the name of mastering tasks. There’s something mystical and almost religious for me in buying a cute notebook made of recyclable materials, taking a deep breath, and categorizing my work life by priority level. I’ve always been a fan of the grocery list as well, even if it never makes it out of my pocket once I arrive at the store.

But for some crazy reason, I’ve always been terrified at the idea of a bucket list. And then I read about all these powerful, artsy, inspiring people getting together in California next week to talk about their mighty lists. And then I thought – oh sh*t – I know why I haven’t made one of these. Because I’m a scaredy-cat and that is so not fitting with the powerful, feminist, adult life-makeover I’ve been trying to give myself lately.

So I made a list. Or started one, rather. Draft one only has 20 things on it, and only two of them really seem impossible right now. Lewis Carroll wrote “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast…” in Through the Looking Glass. I suppose I’ll be getting up a bit earlier for the next few weeks to expand my list, and watching closely for white rabbits.

Image - Walt Disney Pictures

Thus far – the list itself has been my white rabbit; it leads you down the path all by itself, like a crossword that your mind keeps working on long after you set down the paper. I listed those first 20 dreams/goals/ambitions in the 30 minutes I have between work and yoga. Number three on the list was to know my strengths and weaknesses better, and to prove it by finally holding a headstand. And do you know what? I did. For almost a full minute! Things like this just don’t happen. I’ve been calming my mind and working on that headstand for over 2 months and have never even hit a balance before.

In yoga, the most important things are emptying your mind and knowing yourself. That’s exactly what a mighty list is/does. It forces you to de-clutter your mind by putting all of your dreams and goals on paper. Once your mind is emptied of all those scary ambitions, you can look at them, know them and conquer them (or revise them!). I can’t think of a better way to get to know myself than to come up with and then look at 100 things I want from life. 100 is a lot of things! I can cover everything from my ambition to write a novel to my desire to ski out of a helicopter with that many open opportunities!

The best thing about the Mighty List is that it is a break from the cold, hard reality that surrounds so many of my lists. One thing I noticed that the amount of time I spend worrying about money is totally disproportionate to the amount of goals on my list that are about money. Sure, some of the things I want to do will cost money, but not the big ones. Not planting my own vegetable garden. Not reading 100 new books. Not watching the sunrise every day for a month. And definitely not doing a headstand. Even with the things that will cost lots of $$, part of the challenge is to let life lead you to these things you want to do – not sit around with your accounting book trying to figure out how much it costs to rent a helicopter and charter a sailboat.

Of course, I'll still have to reconcile my dreams with my budget. What if the money I save by growing my own vegetables or baking all my own bread could be translated into a fund to pay for a glacier ski trip? What if I could find a way to combine my job with doing disaster relief work in Africa? What if I could serve as a guide/trip organizer in order to pay for a hike on the High Sierra loop? What a great creative challenge it will be take my dreams off the page and into reality. Money has absolutely nothing to do with what you can achieve -  unless you let it get in your way.
So go on… start writing yours! 

Double E

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