Lately, I’ve been writing five lists when I get up in the morning, first thing I do. The first list is the gratitude list, just like they tell you you should do.
I’ve always meant to get started on it, but somehow it’s taken me this long to actually get around to it. I always felt like, well, I’m grateful, I’m a grateful person, I think about the things I’m grateful for all the time. Doesn’t that count for the same? But, when it comes down to sharpening the pencil, finding a blank page in a favourite notebook and actually getting down to making the list, it’s a whole different beast.
The process matters. Like praying, it’s the actual words of the prayer, the getting down on your knees, the willingness to give up the time and do the work, instead of just thinking about it and thinking that makes it so. Like the Steve Jobs quote – ‘the disease of thinking that having a great idea is really 90 percent of the work’.
So that works, and it’s been good. Ten things I’m grateful for, every morning, varying from day to day but often the same things showing up – my partner, my parents, Theresa May getting a kicking in the election, the usual things. It’s always ten items, for simplicity, and because an arbitrary number makes you really think – stretching for gratitude when the list is difficult to finish, making hard choices when there are too many candidates for too few spots.
Then I move on to the second list, and another ten items. The second list is my ‘hello universe’ list. Signs, signals, little tips and winks and nudges from the universe to put me on another path or confirm the way I’m heading, or just to say ‘hi there, hi. you’re not alone’. I don’t generally get ten signs or synchronicities a day, and repetition from day to day is fine. But almost always, I have something new to add to the list – like, I turn on the radio and there’s a discussion going on about something I’m thinking about right that second. Or someone’s name comes up in every book I open, every song I hear.
Then there’s the third list, which is the daily To-Do list. This is self-explanatory, and probably very little different from anyone’s to-do list. Paperwork, shopping, phone-calls to make, nothing unusual. The fourth list is Work, and is a more narrowly-defined to-do list with purely professional/work/money based items to be ticked off.
The fifth list is maybe the most important. It’s the ‘The Ones I Love’ list, and what could be more important than that? Listing off ten people you love – changing little from day to day, maybe the slightest variations according to the vicissitudes of life and relationships – is guaranteed to open the heart, lighten the spirits, make the world a more beautiful place.
I find it so, anyhow. It makes every day a good day.
Every morning, the ritual, then. Except that yesterday morning, my brain was on the fritz, glitching away with senior moments. The first four lists I dashed off fine, pleased with my spiritual and practical processes and progress. Then when it came to the Love List, I had a dyslexic moment. Instead of ‘love’, you see, I wrote ‘evol’.
The Evol List – I was writing – apparently – the Evol List. It sounds a little sinister, doesn’t it? Packed full of supervillainy and miscreants, you’d think. Who needs a list of evol-doers in their life?
I went to strike it out, to correct it. And then I hesitated, and I thought. Well, if you believe in signs and synchronicities – and I do – don’t these things happen for a reason? At minimum, maybe my brain was talking to me. Unconscious to superego, are you reading me, superego?
Evol. Hmm. Take a look at it. It’s not exactly love in reverse. It’s more of a mish-mash, the ingredients of love taken and misused by a terrible cook. What would an Evol List consist of?
I didn’t think about it too much, then. There were ten spots on the list, and I filled them up, quick, not too much pondering. With names, with people in and out of my life. Some of them were names of people who often appear on my Love List, too. Maybe people I have very imperfect relationships with, but who still merit the word love in my mind, in my heart.
Some of them weren’t.
And I took the list, when I’d written it, and thought about the names on it. Sighed a bit, and got on with my day.
Who would go on your Evol list? Who would go on your Love List? Would any of the names be the same, on both?
Image – holytimeland on Flickr, public domain.
Image – lizzi idiomas on Flickr, public domain.
Image – Jack Ambler on Flickr, public domain.