There is a fence along the seawall of my home town that encourages people to commit their dreams to chalk. The board contains several lines that begin with “Before I Die, I Want To . . . ” and has a blank spot for visitors and town residents to put down an item from the life bucket list.
Some people have jotted down “live in India” or “marry my crush.” Others have taken on global issues such as “see the end of world hunger” or “stop human trafficking.” Others have focused upon their future careers, such as “become a sci-fi writer” or “be the next assistant for Dr. Who.”
Passing the wall, I’ve often wondered about my “before I die, I want to” statement. There is plenty I want to do, see and become. But I’m not sure any one of them is strong enough to make a public declaration.
Like many people, my daily life is full of “to-do” lists. I make a list for the things I want to accomplish that day. I make a list of meal ideas I want to try in my kitchen. I have a list of projects that I would like to complete by the end of the year. I have a list of ideas for my future position as a bed and breakfast owner.
Lists keep me organized, focus and help to get things done. They get me moving in the right direction on projects and help to break down the bigger components of my goals. But beyond tracking daily life, perhaps the lists are preventing me from seeking some of the bigger components of my life.
It’s easy to get swamped with what “I have to do” or get done by some randomly assigned time frame. It’s easy to allow the little slips of paper or, if you are more technology inclined than I am, an app to direct your attention to what is missing, hasn’t been accomplished or needs attention during your day. But what about the little things? The ones that make life shine? That make you smile?
Perhaps it is this need to fulfill lists (even the bucket lists) that creates this sense of “gotta get, gotta do, gotta become.” When we allow them to, they fulfill our daily thoughts, push out some of the smaller joys and squeeze our days of the two resources we have: time and money.
Instead of your standard “to do list,” think of it as a fulfillment list. Instead of just the “have tos” include the “want tos.” Along with getting a load of darks done or calling the dentist to reschedule your cleaning, be sure to add the little things that you WANT to do that day like taking a walk to watch the sunset with your mate or making time to read a few chapters out of your favorite mystery novel. Add tucking in your son or splurging for an ice cream cone after dinner.
It’s time to focus on what we have, enjoy and even are thankful for rather than on what is missing, in need of repair or unaccomplished.
Find the little things that contribute to your life and incorporate them into your day. There’s a lot more out there than just lists of things to do . . . there are moments to enjoy.