The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Living by the list: the rigors of list making


By Lisa Schappell

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I donít know if youíve picked up on this phenomenon or not, but we as a society are rather list-driven. Or perhaps I should only speak for myself and not generalize. Forgive me. I am list-driven and for good or for ill I find myself unable to extricate my life from the rigors of list making as a means to organize my thoughts, my goals, my tasks and just about everything else.
Take for instance the notorious Grocery List. Motivated by a desire to have a structured grocery shopping experience, I create some type of grocery list each week to assist me in the noble task of feeding my brood. Throughout the course of the week, various individuals frequently announce to me when we are running low or completely out of certain key items that are staples in our home. Take chocolate for instance, or toilet paper, fruit snacks or spinach Ė at any given moment someone might remark casually that we need more of one of these items. My response to this information routinely is, ďAdd it to the list.Ē The list is usually in the kitchen, although in their defense it might be in the bathroom or the living room since I am rather unpredictable. So adding it to the list might take a bit of effort. However, upon returning home from a shopping trip, I invariably fail to produce something that was needed. When confronted about this, I ask again simply, ďWas it on the list?Ē Enough said. The defense restsÖ.
Then thereís the proverbial To-Do List. This creature seems to never end and instead simply morphs from one incarnation to another. Sometimes it is a highly organized digital spreadsheet with deadlines and synopses of each item. Sometimes it takes the shape of a napkin with scribbled shorthand stuffed hastily into the pocket of my hoodie. Mostly, it looks like scraps of notepads crossed out and circled and starred and underscored, barely decipherable without a background in cold war code breaking. But all these variations on a theme represent the tasks and jobs and duties that I have to pay attention to in many different venues. Some are related to the house and yard, some are work related, some are hobbies and recreational. Collectively these lists keep me focused and productive as well as stressed and frazzled.
Not to be forgotten is the Bucket List. This one tends to be less dynamic than the first two, and often remains constant over the course of months and even years. Since many of the items on my bucket list are Life Goals, it stands to reason that it may actually take a lifetime to achieve some of them. As I wrote this column, I took out my bucket list and checked it for good measure. I have made real authentic progress towards two items on there and this discovery made my day! One goal on the Bucket List was to take our entire family to Disney World and we are busy planning that trip at this very moment. That particular item, though not yet complete is at least into the tangible stage and not just a dream so I highlighted it. That seems fair. Another item on there was to take a lesson to spin wool on a spinning wheel. I have wanted to learn how to do this for a long time and I finally scheduled my class. So even though I technically donít know how to do this yet, I highlighted that one too because the plan is in motion and Iím confident that I will learn.
Even as I write this column, I realize that I have produced yet another list: a list of the lists that govern my life. How ironic. As I reflect about my penchant for creating lists, I think of a passage in the Bible that makes me smile. The Psalmist says that God knows all about my troubles, that he has kept a record of every tear that I cry and listed each one in his book. I am not the only list-keeper it would seem. And when Iím drowning and floundering in the demands placed upon me by myself or others, I can be glad that my loving heavenly Father is keeping close track of it all!