I’ve had a love hate relationship with lists for years. They are a good tool, and like the table saw that kicked a piece of plywood into my gut the other day, are easy to misuse.
Make a list, write make a list at the top, and check it, or cross it off. Then proceed further, with caution.
It’s easy to overdo by writing out details for days, and the lists on my walls foretell the story of my life’s work. What I will build, where I will go, and how did I go wrong? What could I have done differently? When did the first transgression occur? Was it petty? Why was it serious?
With a well developed list, a decision presents itself to me. I trust that my emotions will play on my choices in irregular and radical ways, so a list helps to ground them in rational logic. It’s easier to be confident when the next step is already decided, and my actions become a hopeful pursuit of change.
Difficulty arises when the groups of lists add up, bringing me an overwhelming sense of ambitious planning. Love for spontaneity, possibility, and variety tends to railroad my best laid plans into regretted things I haven’t done.
The book is titled The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. Titillating stories mix into a fascinating tale of a surgeon and his worldwide pursuit, to develop a basic life saving checklist. The last few pages are the meat if your a skip to the end for the answers person. The three stages listed are “Development, Drafting, and Validation.” Asking questions like, “Does it fit on one page?”
A whole new way of relating to my lists has occurred from reading this book. I recognize where I’ve blundered in the past, and now I see a way to change the pattern. Inevitably I’ll fail tremendously again, and find myself upside down in a bubble surrounded by mirrors, but I can always understand it with a list.
If fiction is your preference, read Cutting for Stone. It’s a real page turning heart puller and is an inspiration for my pursuit of teaching empathy as an effective medicine. The concept I use from the book as a category on this blog is “Medicine for the Ears”, so if you want to read more of my thoughts on that click on the category, or the above link to a short article I wrote on my love for this book.
So I’m setting out on a path to rectify the lists in my head, on the walls, in the notebooks, pages in folders, and maybe I’ll just finish the one I’m working on now….and look wildly forward to writing the next one.
Check, Check, % bar mark, Check, Check, black out and never do, Check, Check, % bar mark, sauna, eat, work play harder, Check, Check, Check.
Thank you for reading all the way through. I appreciate your attention, and will intend to place bright shining examples of free thought where you kept your less desirable TV memories. Good luck with accomplishing your lists.