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TO-DO LIST
January 3, 2005
 
I see it's all still here -- the bills I must pay without fail today, the unfinished manuscript, the calendar of which I seem unable to make much sense anymore: I write things down in it and still get them wrong! The week between Christmas Day and New Year's Day is a gentle time, a time that, if it doesn't stand absolutely still, strolls along at a pace a person can endure. But now the load of tasks falls on us all like a sudden slide of snow from the roof -- whoompf! -- and we're engulfed.

I see that the women's magazines in the grocery store are all about getting rid of clutter and losing weight. What a fine idea. Walking or going to Curves or to the Y -- it will clear my cobwebs, I hope. It will make my blood pump hard through my body, make me feel powerful, that I am an agent: I can do something about the heap of obligations that surrounds me. They are mine, aren't they? Don't they all represent things I love and want? Yes. So I can make a move. I don't have to sit here entombed in them.

And perhaps I can come to terms with the calendar. Bring your historian, the neurologist's secretary tells me matter-of-factly, as I make an appointment. This is an engaging thought, that we might each have our own historian. A biographer who is watching us, seeing us better than we see ourselves sometimes, another pair of eyes and ears to help us make sense of things. Someone who will sum us up when we die: she never embroidered those two pillow covers from the Bayeux Tapestry but she did celebrate more than a thousand Eucharists. She never got a hummingbird to come to her garden, but she was always ready for one. She couldn't remember anything about in advance about her speaking engagements but she was always pretty good once she got there.

I imagine the things you finish are the things you're supposed to finish, and the others are optional. Probably you do the things you really care about, always, and the others are not as close to your heart as you feel they should be. Perhaps it is that "should" we should re-examine. Who says you should? If it isn't you or God, if it's your disapproving mother who's been dead forty years now, or a teacher you're still trying to please decades after graduation, maybe it's time to chuck it, or let someone else do it.

The bills, right now. Curves this afternoon at 4pm. Write in between. That's it. It's going to be a busy week.
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