Dancing With To-Do Lists

SunsetSpring is on hold, delayed by day after day of chilly, damp weather; meteorologists label these stretches of stagnant weather, “blocking”. The birds have literally been flocking to the feeder, probably feeding themselves and their chicks in an attempt to fend off the chill. The forecast is for more of the same.

On my desk, a stack of papers has been growing, a pile of tasks in process. There was once a time, maybe in high school, when I imagined I would get through all of the work I had been assigned, had chosen, or that had just somehow accrued. This idea periodically returns, buoyed by the illusion that I have,against all odds, mysteriously caught up. On these occasions I have been known to dance and sing through the house, even to boast of my warrior-like deeds.

Those moments of relative success are precious and, of course, illusory. Still, they are the source of enormous, if transitory, pleasure. They are also the result of selective attention; my desk, and desk top, may be clear, but there are dust bunnies proliferating under the bed, and the laundry basket overfloweth. Let’s see: my office needs vacuuming, as does my car. My disability scooter requires a test drive, as although I have tried valiantly to keep its batteries charged throughout the winter when it is not in use, I suspect they have failed and will need to be replaced. Failed batteries mean that I will have to wait for replacements to arrive; meanwhile the scooter will sit in the garage.

In the face of all that is unfinished, I take refuge in the understanding that life as a human, or a bird, assures us that new tasks will always be added to the list, and there will inevitably be something left undone. A truth of living with Post Polio is the certainty that said list will always grow, that one will be faced, in the service of saving energy, nerves, and muscle, with the conundrum of actively choosing what NOT to do.

I have learned that other people often mistake such choosing as procrastination. This is understandable, if misguided. Rather than putting things off, we Polios must decide what to let go of, sometimes entirely. I imagine this is actually fundamental to the human condition, although able-bodied folks may be better at pretending this is not so. In the end, as the saying goes”, we will leave things undone”.

Oddly, I find this idea hopeful. I am certain that I will leave much undone come the end of the day. I will also accomplish something, will cross one or two, or possibly more, things from my to-do list. Hopefully, I will take some pleasure in that. How about you?


13 thoughts on “Dancing With To-Do Lists

  1. I usually prioritize knowing that some things may not get done for a long time, if ever. Mostly it works, but occasionally something slips through and I get a reminder by phone or e-mail. I try not to worry if nothing gets done and treat it as a (well-deserved) day off.

  2. I have acquired certain perfectionist tendencies and feel grossly elated when I accomplish what I consider “necessary”. But I am learning that jumping to other people’s expectations is akin to the foolish consistency that is “the hobgoblin of little minds”. Sometimes it’s a better lesson for everyone involved to leave something undone, to say ‘no’ or ‘wait’. Wisdom seems to require slowing down and a little disappointment.

  3. I agree with you Michael, by age it becomes more easy to let things go and accept, that not all at our lists will end up completed.
    I use to make my list in the morning after my coffee, where I can feel my body wakes up. Up to energy and pain level I make my list for the day.

    1. Irene, as you will note, I got way behind in responding to comments….. How fitting! I am at least smiling rather than berating myself. So some improvement…… Yes, if we can match our activity to the needs of body and psyche, we do better…..

  4. I was looking fwd to my hard-to-believe week of flying solo after seeing my guys off on their trip to the Grand Canyon, eager to organize and attack those dust bunnies. But I don’t think anyone ever really catches up. Physical challenges do sharpen our priorities and compel us to surrender…and hopefully find joy.

    1. Oh, it is so easy for things to get away from us! The past two weeks have seen me falling ever further behind, as witnessed by how long it has taken to respond to comments! I had even set aside entire days to catch up, but top no avail. One must laugh…..

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