Living Off-List

November 25, 2013  •  3 Comments

LEAF LITTER

There is a practice taking over online marketing and blogging designed to gain audience and ranking by posting lists of actionables - I offer my list of 5 ways to photograph flowers, in exchange you pay attention to my website and what’s there to buy.  This recipe may bake the cake, but forgets the frosting, and after about the third slice, is it one You want to eat?

It is heartening to have all of these how-to’s as opposed to The Way, but with so many lists flying around I find myself listless.  Here’s why.

My mother, with six kids to raise, devised novel methods to track and organize our daily lives from chore charts all the way down to our underwear. School morning fights between my four brothers over socks in the sock box were quickly remedied by different colored threads sewn into the toe.  Of course the boys would find equally novel ways to circumvent the system by turning a sock inside out, biting the thread off, or hiding a treasured sock until the storm passed. My mother’s grocery lists were epic poems rhymed down to the penny.

My mother will be 80 next month and her lists now live taped to the backs of cupboard doors, on the wall next to the phone, and tucked neatly into her purse.  Her habit of pinning to-do’s on her blouse so we could remind her is no longer useful since she lives alone.  She actually refrained from the practice prior to her solitary existence after grocery store checkers commented on her paper brooch more than once.

I was the sort of child that ticked off my chores and homework in order to take off into my own world and wander down the street kicking leaves, get lost in a book, sew a hooded purple corduroy monk’s robe, or draw maps of faraway lands with colored pencils.  For me, the end of the list was the beginning of exploration.  I was also brought up with the List of Ten taught with meetings of a modified wooden Bounce-Back paddle ball and my back end.  Without any reason given other than some white-bearded bro wrote the list in stone long ago, it took years for me to climb out of my own contrariness to see that some of the Thou Shalts etched on those clay tablets made sense because they hurt other people.  Thou Shalt Not teach a child to Not hurt others by hurting the child.

My thing with lists goes beyond our tendencies to turn them into absolutes.  In our hustle-bustle, online lives, we accept the list as a synopsis of reality and move on.  In so doing, we fail to find the frosting layered within the list maker’s recipe beyond the quick tip.  More importantly, it’s often too easy to dismiss the sixth way of photographing flowers - our own.

Live off-list and find your way.

 

Comments

3.Michela Griffith(non-registered)
Ah Deborah, that must be how you manage to do so much - no lists! ;-) A while back I found that a completed list = no time for my interests, but I haven't managed to kick the habit entirely.
2.Debby Tappan(non-registered)
Loved this blog... gave me a lot to think about
1.John Spurr(non-registered)
Amusing... :-)
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