Life Lists and Other Thoughts
Some of you may have realized by now that I am an obsessive-compulsive list maker. I make lists about everything. What to pack, what to buy, what to make, what to eat… It’s kind of a problem. Anyway, all of these lists have added up to a big pile of notebooks full of lists. A pile that I had to sort through this week and weed out.
It was actually very neat to look through the pile of old notebooks. Some I hadn’t seen in a long time and the contents made me chuckle. There were the pink Lisa Frank notebooks from 2003 with lists reading, “Hilary Duff movies I have seen” and “What to Buy with my Aeropostale Gift Card” (Yeah, I’m kind of ashamed of that one now) There were lists from various school projects on topics like, “Works by Baroque Composers” and “Darwinism versus Calvinism”. I found dozens upon dozens of Bible verses, scrawled on the edges of pages and probably memorized last-minute before tests. And there were pages of scribblings on different theological topics I was studying, with writing going upside down and sideways as I jotted down notes from books and Bibles. I even found all my original lists of literary agents and submission requirements!
But the coolest thing I stumbled upon in my notebook purging binge was a list I probably wrote in 2008 or 2009. Three or four years ago. On the top of the page in neat cursive handwriting (a sign that this was important to me–I never write neatly or in cursive!), it read: “My List of Things to Do in Life”.
It was really fun to read over the list and remember everything that I once wanted to do someday. I thought I’d copy the list here, and then give some of my thoughts on the list now. Some of them are really embarrassing to me now, but I’ll give you the whole, unedited list just for history’s sake.
“My List of Things to Do in Life” – circa 2008
- Learn to play Claude Debussy’s ‘Reverie’ on the piano
- Save a life
- Give without expecting in return
- Publish a book
- Travel to every continent
- Kiss on top of a ferris wheel
- See an opera
- Meet an influential person
- Forgive someone I didn’t think I could
- Read a book in another language
- Learn how to fence
- See the Northern Lights
- Take pleasure in simple, beautiful things
- Tell someone that I love them every single day
- Do something right that no one else would know about
- Own over 500 books
- Have a picnic by the sea
- Teach someone something about life
- Wear an evening gown somewhere other than my wedding
- Be a good role model
And that’s it. Twenty things I wanted to do one day, written when I was about thirteen years old. Like I said, it cracks me up to read it now, because there are several things on there that I would never think of now. Kiss on a ferris wheel? Wear an evening gown? Own 500 books???? Other things I’d forgotten I’d ever wanted to do. Like have a picnic by the sea. (Wouldn’t that be amazing?) Or see the Northern Lights.
I know that making life lists is a very clichéd thing to do, and if you’re thinking that, I totally agree with you. And yet, it also sort of fills me with a semi-sentimental happy feeling. Once upon a time, I had really big dreams. I was going to go somewhere in life. (Forget somewhere–I was going to go everywhere! All seven continents!) There were really big, cool things that I wanted to do and see. Some of them may seem silly to me now, but at the time, they were unbelievable life dreams.
And then, there were also more serious things that I wanted to do someday. Be a good role model. Give without expecting in return. Do something right that no one else would know about. Those are all still things that I am struggling to do and accomplish. And I know that they are things I will struggle with my whole life. I’ll never be able to be the person that I always dream of being–the girl who is perfect and selfless and always gives sacrificially. But, by the grace of God, I hope that’s the person I’ll always be working toward becoming. Even when I make mistakes and fall behind, I hope that I’ll always be able to look forward. I want to always look to the future with the same optimism and hope that I did when I was thirteen. I honestly believed that God had big plans for my life and I had plans, too. I knew they wouldn’t all come true and I was okay with that, but I wasn’t afraid to dream. And I don’t want to be afraid to dream now.