Lists of lists

I am in inveterate list maker. I have lists of my lists in little notebooks. As life gets more complicated and my attentions shift, I find I need more lists. I wonder who wrote the first list? I don’t remember mention of them in The Clan of the Cave Bear. (My foremost authority on pre-historic beings.) Perhaps a fascinating young woman named Lindsay Eaves Hunter could find the answer for me in her pursuit of paleontology in Africa.

We make shopping lists, grocery lists, Christmas present lists. The methods of composing those lists has certainly changed. From scrounging around to find a crayon hoping to also unearth an envelope with a clean back; to the type and swipe or voice record, instant list of passwords we all keep right there so we can find them.

Lists indicate productivity; listless is synonymous with inactive.  If I have no list, I must be lethargic, spiritless, lifeless. So evolution was a good thing; we  learned to jot it down but has it driven us to distraction? We have lists of the missing, the wounded, the champions and the heroes. I think it makes each individual seem less important when they are part of a list.

The end of the year marks the list maker’s pinnacle. We list the best and worst of  the year. Someone makes a list of who we lost and what our triumphs were as a human race. Lists chronicle the past and drive the future.

A résumé is really just my list of accomplishments and the guest list is who will show up and behave as we expect. I love the current spate of lists that help us identify with who we are such as “You might have grown up  here if you remember this…”

How do I love you? Let me list the ways…


15 thoughts on “Lists of lists”

  1. Clever! I too am a list maker, carry a small spiral notebook in my purse so I can “Jot” any time and any where…. (thanks Dad). Perhaps we “list-ers” love our lists because with all that is going on these days, juggling being super beings with jobs, kids, commuting, homes, pets, yards, parents, groceries, meals to prep and keeping healthy to be “responsible” for, we are running out of mental space to keep our many responsibilities in order, so that nothing slips through the cracks… fortunately, there is something quite satisfying in crossing off items on our lists! Still, it would be nice not to have to make lists at all.

  2. When I get to the grocery store, my list is usually on the counter at home where I left it. I make lists of all of the things I want to get done. When I think of cleaning the yard, I get overwhelmed, but if I look at the list and see “Rake the front yard”, I think – I can do it. And as Doppleganger pointed out, you get a sense of accomplishment when you cross something off. I could write a list of all the ways lists help me.

  3. Ah, lists. My parents claimed when I was a teenager sometimes they only knew when I had been around by finding the lists I a left about the house. I have a mostly love relationship with them, except for my to-read list. It feels way to demanding and overwhelming and b/c there are so many things I want to read I sometimes feel a slave to it. I try not to let it suck the fun out of reading and not to rush thru books; it usually doesn’t.

  4. I have all the lists you mention. Occasionally everything on my to-do list is accomplished and I beam with happiness for a few hours or a day until it begins to fill again. I don’t like lists but life pulls you in too many directions today.

  5. I’m a list-maker as well. To Do lists, of course, are rampant and recurring. My favorite shade of listing, the kind I enjoy dwelling on when I’m journaling, are my What’s Ahead for the Rest of . It’s fun and gratifying to plan ahead and look forward to the things you hope to accomplish, the places you hope to explore, the fun you hope to share with loved ones.

    I’ve recently begun lists with no names. Activities that make me smile and bring me joy. They are enumerated as single words, punctuated with a period at the end of each one.

    Hiking. Biking. Photography. Crochet. Reading. Blogging.

    Life is MORE when you have things to look forward to and experiences that await you!!

  6. I too keep lists and spreadsheets, which are just clever lists with magic formulae. What would we do without them, especially those of us with no memory of any kind. Clan of the Cave Bear was an inspiring book, I devoured it and then re read it. Such a story and such research.

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