Sunday, October 11, 2009

Are you bogged down, perhaps feeling the SOG? (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

In my wanderings this morning, I stumbled upon a friend's list of stuff she planned to learn this year. While I don't pretend to be her BFF, we have known each other long-distance for a good long while, and we sometimes talk about issues in our email messages which actually would not lend themselves all that well to a conversation over lunch in a public place. So, I felt a certain level of comfort in advising her.

She had one thing on her list which was really not something she would be likely to integrate into her life. Were she to devote the necessary energy and focus, she is fully capable, so that's not the issue. It's just that the topic involves something I think may be alien to her nature.

We all have those things in our lives, those tasks or events or people who are part of our experience which teach us, but may not be people/events/tasks we would renew acquaintance with on a weekly basis, given the choice.

I don't know about you, but for me, I ended up with a list which I only discovered recently: my shoulda/oughta/gotta list--that's the SOG which is in the title of this post. It is where I imagine my friend will move her intention to learn that hard thing which is not hers, in my eyes. Here is how that list works.

Something is added to the list because somehow, someway, it has been decided that my journey needs to include checking off doing/meeting/attending. As any well-intended person would do, I add an entry to the list.

There are two ways for items to move off of that list: they can be crossed off because they no longer apply (the event has already passed, the task has become moot, the person has moved to a country with no internet access), or the keeper of the list, me in this case, dies.

Theoretically, there is a third option: it is possible for an item to be checked off as complete, as something which has been done or attended or dealt with. It is also possible for a gravitational singularity to suddenly cause Earth to stop holding me here, freeing me to fly. I consider both possibilities to be similarly improbable.

After discovering the list, I wondered what to do. It is clear that the list doesn't serve me well, nor does it create any sort of advantage or incentive to completion of the items on the list. It, in fact, acts in just the opposite fashion: it creates a weight to carry with me, it slows my progress on the things which I am impassioned to handle, and it provides fertile ground where guilt can sprout and grow.

Now what? I have this list, it is not helping me, and I need a plan. As to the items already on the list, see paragraph above which details the two ways. No more energy need be devoted to those things already resident on the list. I have openly acknowledged that progress is unlikely, so to heck with it. I'm not going to pretend I'm working on them any longer.

Now that I know I own the list and can see it with open eyes, I know I can decide another means of handling the potential new entries which would have been made to this list, were I not now consciously deciding.

My strong preference, one I espouse with every email message I send--my tag line points to two posts I consider to be life-changing for me--is to start right where I am, and to bring all I've got to the moment.

Those concepts apply in this arena very simply: rather than make the list, such entities or events will be handled right now, today, this second. If a task, I will do it. If a difficult conversation with a person, I will have it or schedule it with that person. If an event, I will put it on my calendar in ink, or I will delete any mention of it from my records and move on, knowing I have committed to *not* attending.

That's my plan for ceasing the use of this list, or at least the expansion of it.

Yes, there are entries already noted on the list. Yes, I plan to have the list read at my memorial service. Who knows? I may out-live any remaining items on the list. Yes, the food will be excellent, the music live, and spirits light. That will be an event you want to mark in ink, not miss!

No comments: