Umberto Eco once wrote, ‘we like to make lists because we don’t want to die.’ I don’t really know who Umberto Eco is, but I do believe he’s right. I love making lists. And like scores of other folks, I maintain several of them. A HOUSE list, a WORK list, a GARDEN list, a WRITING list… The process of creating a list fills me with purpose, and the act of crossing off each item delights me with a sense of accomplishment. I love hitting the pillow every night having seen proof of my achievements that day, and knowing what needs to be done when I awake. It makes me feel that I matter.
One list of mine, however, contains items that can never be crossed off. The entries on this list are not tasks, but more resolutions, promises… Stop comparing. Practice patience. Don’t rush. Be here. Listen more. This is not a TO-DO list: it’s a TO-BE list. And each item on it is part of my journey toward becoming a better person. Because much as I know that I’ve made strides in the past few years, I also know that I can do much better. My TO-BE list reminds me how.
When I look at the TO-BE list, I realize what Umberto may have been writing about: some things are simply not meant to be crossed off. That, for so long as we breathe, these things may be attained but never fully accomplished. And because they can’t be accomplished, they cannot be crossed off the list. Thus, we continue the quest. We continue to live.
My TO-BE list hasn’t changed often, but this past year found me adding a new entry to it that profoundly changed me, actually made me pray out loud that I would always find it within me to work toward it:
Now, this sentence may seem a bit Pollyanna for some, but to me it sounded – well… right. Because I’ve known for a long time that I really do need to love a bit more. Not in a rose-colored-glasses, I love everyone and everything in the whole wide world! way, but in a way that would make me more willing to see the best in others and respond with kindness to them. I’m often too impatient, too judgemental. Too quick to assume and find the bad in others… Too closed. Loving more would help me be a better person. And a happier one as well.
So the very moment I wrote those two words, I just knew this was my new mantra – my only mantra. To love more would encompass everything on my TO-BE list. In essence, it was my new TO-BE list.
I’m not kidding when I tell you, something inside me sang out YES!!!!
That’s when I decided to get a tattoo.
I always adored the idea of getting a tattoo, but could never decide what I wanted – or where I wanted it. Over the years, I realized that I had no desire for body art as decoration or a display for others. I knew that whatever I chose, it would hold meaning only for me. So while it needed to be placed where I would see it, it was likely that only I would appreciate it. And until recently, I didn’t love anything enough to indelibly inscribe it on my body. Not so anymore.
Today, I have a tattoo of my new TO-BE list.
Perfectly placed to forever remind me, every day, to love more.
(I sure hope it works!)
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