Wednesday, December 22

the list post (or why I don't do them)

All the cool kids in the blogosphere do lists. I mean they really do ‘em. They do ‘em to the degree that the damned things are practically art. They:

v      write them for themselves to keep their organized selves all organized and shit;
v      use them to great community-building effect on their blogs, either:
o        Making lists of cool things they’ve learned or done, or;
o        Making lists of questions to ask their readers, or;
o        Making lists of amazing things they’ve found;
v      make them into poetry, with brilliant segues and dazzling syntactic cliffhangers;

I find it awe-inspiring. I’m envious. I’m not a list maker, not at all. Like multi-tasking, I’m capable of writing them, but I find it personally distasteful to actually do. Not in an “I’m going to throw up if I have to write one” way; Just in the sense that it provokes a mild sense of queasiness.

I do write lists from time to time, often for the same reasons that many people I admire write them. I write them to:

v      remind myself of tasks that must get done before I slip back into a pleasantly irresponsible state;
v      order the things I absolutely can’t procrastinate any longer in regards to;
v      create an order of operations so that I can complete boring errands in as efficient a way as possible so as to facilitate slipping back into the aforementioned irresponsible state.

But these are exceptions to my rule of being, things I have to do. They are an equivocation to the way the world is. In my ideal world, the one I usually try to experience in my loopy head, there are only lists consisting of one thing at a time, and a list of one is not a list really, now is it? It’s just an item. I guess maybe I’m an item-maker.

Lists give me no comfort at all. They weigh me down. They loom.

I could have a made a list today about all the things I wanted to get done, but then I would have had to stick to it to gain closure on my day. Surely, on that list, at the end of it, would have been the item: Get to bed at a reasonable time so you can get up early and edit for your freelance job. That is a reasonable and sensible goal to include on a list. And, that item being there, I would have felt a great conflict when, at the appointed time, I decided to write a blog post instead, a post concerning lists, for example. I would have been left with a giant, gaping failure – a huge open check box at the end of my day that would not, could not, subsequently be filled.

I would have been despondent.

You see, I know these things about myself:

v      I am not a goal-setter – I am a dreamer;
v      I do not wish to be a multi-tasker – I desire to be gloriously obsessed;
v      I don’t want to win – I just want to run.

I also have a really hard time making lists longer than three items long, as you might have noticed by now.

I think that maybe it’s genetic or something. I have an anti-list retro-virus, perhaps. We could call it QLV – Quasi-Bohemian Listodefficiency Virus. Or perhaps it’s congenital, a quirk of natural DNA splicing that was undetected in the womb and, in mid-life, has blossomed into an untreatable (I hope) syndrome typified by aimless walks and drives, and ponderous ponderings for extended periods of time during which I could almost appear to be asleep were it not for obsessive chin-whisker fondling, open, unfocused eyes, and occasional, spontaneous outburst of laughter or weepiness.

Here’s the truth: A life without lists feels more to me like the summers of my youth, when I climbed trees and roamed hills and made up stories and even wrote them down sometimes. When I swam for hours, and lay on the raft on the lake and stared up at the clouds all afternoon, seeing heroes and villains and all the characters in between soar over me in a kaleidoscope of private mythology.

Even then, even in my daydreams, I was never the first hero. I was always a supporting character, the dissenting voice on the team, the one that questioned everything, especially himself.

I look back, and forward, from this place and time, and I know these things:

v      that boy was unformed in many ways, but;
v      I was closer to my best self then - I was wild there, and;
v      I need to get back.

So this may be the closest I ever come to a list post. It is, perhaps, too bad, because I love it when other people do them right. I guess it’s just one of those things that I’ll have to learn to appreciate from the outside.

You know, while I’m scratching my chin, happily obsessing, and looking opportunistically for a good metaphorical raft.