I am all about making lists. Grocery lists. Lists of gratitude. “Odes” to the people I love. To-do lists. Calendars. Prayer requests. Birth plans. Recipes. Long-term goals. Outlines for your thesis you haven’t yet written. Ahem.
(Some of you you might remember my 30×30 list–the 30 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30. As it turns out, I made it through about a third of them, but I also did something huge that kind of interrupted my life during this past year.)
I especially love to-do lists.
In fact, I may or may not put things on my to-do lists that I’ve already done just so that I can start my day off with a sense of accomplishment. But I do rarely accomplish all of the items on my lists for the day.
I’m not sure I ever have, actually. Not only are my lists impractically ambitious, but I often leave the list in whatever book I’m reading, or in my purse, or in the car, or by the computer where I don’t look at it until weeks later when the bills and books and other paraphernalia piled on top of it get moved.
Just a week shy of my twenty-ninth birthday, I crossed my first item off the infamous thirty-by-thirty list: hosting a neighborhood picnic.
Here’s how it went down.
Around five o’clock on Sunday morning, as we groggily lay in bed, thunder, lightning, and pouring-down-rain arrived on the scene. We had known for a few days that the forecast wasn’t exactly picnic weather. Unfortunately, considering that when we scheduled the picnic we had been in the middle of drought conditions, we hadn’t thought to communicate inclement weather plans on the invitation. And, to make matters worse, we didn’t have an RSVP list, didn’t know who had been invited word-of-mouth, and didn’t know phone numbers or e-mail addresses of folks in the neighborhood.
Pentecost Sunday morning found me sitting in the pew, meditating on Acts 2:1.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
I thought to myself, Gee, self, you should blog about that.
And then I remembered that I already had. Last year. So much for originality.
Pentecost Sunday afternoon found me wandering around my neighborhood with my friend and neighbor, Mrs. A, knocking on doors. It is not in my nature to knock on the doors of perfect strangers. But there I was. In that place. Trying to be community.
Let me flash back to nearly a year ago. We had moved into a house with an extra side yard, in the middle of a neighborhood. We took one look at that yard and said to each other, “Let’s host a neighborhood cook-out to meet the neighbors! Maybe for Labor Day!”
Labor Day came and went.
A week ago, I made reference to my “thirty by thirty” list, that list of thirty items I want to accomplish before I turn thirty, when I talked about my book-reading goal for the year. I was about to mention that ominous list again in a post and realized I better explain myself a little bit first.
Here’s the thing. I have never been a particular fan of making resolutions, at New Years or any other time. You might remember back in January when I contrasted making resolutions with being children of God. I wrote, “Resolution-making is often individualistic and all about making ourselves into the people we personally think we should be,” and I wasn’t too nice about it.
I have also never been a fan of making goals. In fact, during my first-year evaluation at my first “real” adult job, I wrote this as my five-year goal: Write the next great American novel.
My boss suggested that it might not be relevant to the workplace.
I was trying to have a sense of humor. Sheesh.
Over the last few months, I kept seeing these lists on other blogs: fifteen things by the time I’m thirty, forty recipes to try by the time I’m forty, that sort of thing. So I started making a list in my mind of all the things I’d put on a list if I were the kind of person to make such a list. Which I’m not.
I’ve done something a little crazy. I have set myself some goals. Yes, goals. Thirty of them to be specific. Thirty things to accomplish before I turn…(wait for it)…thirty. One of those goals is to read thirty books.
Here’s the thing. I used to love books and love reading. As a little girl I was scolded for spending too much time inside reading, so I picked up my book, took it outside, and sat down to read in the open air. It wasn’t what my dad had in mind.
But ever since becoming a “professional reader”–I’m counting being both a graduate student and a freelance editor as falling into that category–I pretty much don’t like it. I get bored or distracted or, quite frankly, come up with other things I should be doing.
What a terrible confession, right?