My list is short
I have hit a bit of a writing lull over here at my little blog. It started off innocently enough – I was feeling down so I gave myself a break and focused on taking care of myself: reading for pleasure, going to the gym, eating yummy food, and lets be honest, vegging in front of the TV watching the backlog of Daily Shows and Colbert Reports we had built up on the DVR. But even once I started feeling more like myself, I was still trapped by all these precedents I had set like ‘I won’t write when I have a headache’ (which wipes out about 80% of my days in the last month). And ‘I shouldn’t write on sunny days because we will only have a handful more before five solid months of grey rain kick in.’ And ‘I shouldn’t write when I get home from work because then I neglect dinner and we end up eating pasta again.‘*
And once those precedents are set it becomes an uphill battle to break them.
So I’m easing back into my writing routine with someone else’s words, specifically this quote I just read as part of an interview on the Happiness Project from author Deborah Needleman (I’m also really behind on reading blogs obviously). It pinned down this vague concern I’ve had floating around in my head for the last little while as I’ve been reading about people’s life lists:
On a philosophical level I have always sought happiness above all else. I have not sought money or success or a career or a certain type of life, I have sought only happiness. I did not grow up having ambition or desire to do or be anything, nor did I have any particular skills or talents or passions. I had a hard time projecting myself into the future or imagining or desiring anything for the future. I just simply sought happiness… Now I am ambitious, but even still, I’m ambitious to be the best I can, make good things, not to reach any level or tick off any box.
This might sound strange to you, because it does to me, but I don’t recall having any specific long-term dreams or goals for my life when I was younger. I never dreamed about a wedding let alone a marriage. I didn’t picture my future children or my career. I never made a ‘things I want to accomplish by <insert milestone age here>’ list. I never had a list of places I want to visit, or activities I want to try. I still don’t.
This sounds like the makings of an aimless kind of life, or maybe a life an autopilot. When I realized how few specific dreams I could actually recall having I wondered what in the world was wrong with me. And that remains to be answered, but the fact is, if you plotted my life against someone who had a really ambitious life-list full of goals, I don’t actually think you’d be able to tell which was which (unless their goal was winning the Nobel Prize or American Idol or something).
I guess that makes me lucky** – thus far I have gotten a life I’m pretty content with along with good scenery on the way without ever drawing a map; I’ve just explored the paths in front of me to find the one that I like best and sometimes forged my own when the existing ones didn’t work. It sounds haphazard but it never felt like it. Reading this quote reminded me that I do always have a guiding force with me – the search for happiness and satisfaction in my life.
A few times now I have thought about trying to make some sort of life-list, even mentally, but each time I do I seem to hit on the realization that I still have no idea what to put on it. And maybe that’s ok. Some people have specific ideas of what they want to accomplish in their lives and that’s fantastic because recognizing those goals will bring them closer to reality, but for me – I might just have to tell you when I get there.
Do you have a life list (either a literal list or a mental one)? If so, was this something that came naturally to you or something that you pushed yourself to consider?
*I’m typing this as the wonderful smell of pesto wafts from the kitchen where John is cooking it up with pasta and some shrimp. Tomorrow we’ll eat something not entirely composed of fat and white flour, but today I write.
**I should specify that I did always bust my ass along the way – the luck comes in it all working out.