- Visited my aunt at the hospital, but she was asleep.
- Drove to the wrong hospital.
- Cried at work.
- Sincerely considered if I was about to get mugged at an out-of-town Starbucks parking lot – I didn’t.
- I read over fifty pages and half of them were Plato & Aristotle.
- Went to Target with my boyfriend to buy chocolate milk.
- Moved into my sister’s bedroom.
- Watched way too much Bachelor in Paradise.
- Discovered a new true crime podcast.
- Watched a movie about Ted Kennedy with my dad.
My creative writing professor had us do this exercise a few days ago. Writing the list was strangely cathartic? After I read it over I had this feeling of compassion and a gentle little love for my piece of humanity in this world.
After writing our list we had to take on an objective, detached perspective and write a few lines about what kind of person would write such a list. This was a lot harder than I expected. But here’s what I came up with (revised because I’m finding my in-class work sometimes lacks a bit of personality? I don’t know.):
This may be a person who seems to value family and relationship. A person who is a little on the broke side. A bit of a homebody, spending their time reading and watching trashy tv.
This exercise worked on so many different levels. For one, that kind of list-type journaling is very therapeutic. Two, it showed us how things (or people) can be interpreted in so many different ways if enough context is not given. (Some of our lists made us sound like terrible people! But we’re not terrible people! I mean, my classmates don’t seem like terrible people!)
If you’re still here, I want to invite you to try the exercise. Reading my list made me wonder about other people’s lists. It made me wonder about my friends’ lists. What would they put on their list? My mom – what would make her ten? And then I started wondering about strangers. The barista at Starbucks that was a little snappy today. My student the other day who took the time to make eye contact and ask me how I was doing. What would her list look like?
Because when I talk to my friends and family I tend to give the highlights – the things that I have deemed actually significant. But what about the rest of it? The little things that make up the day-to-day? Because, in the end, aren’t those the things that make up the stuff of life?
So. I want to see your list, if you’ll share it with me. Wherever you are – whether we know each other in person or not. Take out a pen and paper or open up your notes on your phone and then hit the comment button above or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And then maybe sometime later we can try the second part of the exercise. For now, let’s just take some time to slow down and give space to the little things, however insignificant, or even terrible they might feel. This is the meaty life-stuff, my friends. I want to learn to love it.