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To-Do Lists

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I am sitting there at the table trying to rush things along- my usual way. In my head, I have a list running loops through my brain- the gears are turning fast. Birthday celebration, get home, tidy up house, finish laundry, get kids to bed, vacuum, work on my thesis paper. The to-do grows ever longer each passing minute. And like always, I am in a hurry to get things done. I check the time again, slow minutes ticking by unhurried while we eight wile away the minutes in a farmhouse kitchen. I bite my lip and try to catch Husband’s eye. I am getting antsy.

Tick, tick, tock.

Another much wiser and learned than I looks at me from across the room- with a slow smile says, “No rush. Relax and sit back. There is no need to hurry.”

But even as I ponder this concept for but a slip of a moment, I still tell myself, “Of course there is need to move along- look at all there is to be done.” The lines crease my forehead in a tell-tale way- too many years wishing for just five-more-minutes to get one more thing done. I can feel the tension moving through my neck and down into my back.

It takes every ounce of energy in me to relax and wait.

Later on, when the work of the day is over and done, I re-visit this idea of slowing down. I am quieter now- more willing to listen. More receptive.

After my thoughts settle a bit, I start to think back on the day. I recall seeing that little songbird that lighted on the weigela bush at dusk. It’s cheerful tune begging me to listen. I think of four newly crafted paintings left drying on my verhanda, the efforts of three sweet girls. I am prompted to recall a quiet morning spent in attentive concentration to the task at hand. I am reminded of the smell of the water just before the rain. The sound of the breeze rustling the Horse Chestnut branches just outside my window. The daffodils gently lilting, their fragrant heads down-turned.

I think of all there is to hear and see and attend to in our everyday world that presses us not a whit. Rushes us naught.
It is there for our pleasure. If we but take the time.

I think of dear ones now gone into eternity.  I wonder if they could have asked for just one more day, would that ever have been enough to quench the thirst for more time?

Why is it that to-do lists appear completely obsolete when one finds themselves immersed in the natural world thinking about the eternal?  It is all a matter of priority.

It is ironic that when our lives are lived out in the normal, mundane, a time when we could stop and take it all in: we don’t. Again I ask: why is it that only when we find ourselves facing uncertainty we take stock of our time and choose to spend it more wisely? We would do well to view our lives in retrospect once in a while. Reality has this way of gently reminding us every once in a while of what is important and what is not.

To-do lists and mental notes-to-self, as well-meaning and self-serving as they mean to be, are quite useless when one is facing priorities of the heart that really matter. We cannot take our to-do lists to the grave. Time is only at our disposal while we have it.

What we have today is our time. It can be spent lavishly or foolishly wasted. Managed or enjoyed.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ― Mary Oliver

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One thought on “To-Do Lists

  1. Happy Birthday dear girl-your reflective thoughts remind us all that we need to cherish this moment-the one right now-we will never get back, but it is ours now to enjoy. Love you, Mom

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