Friday, January 9, 2009

The Tyranny of the To-Do List

Just got home from a visit with our new friends, the Freneaus (Eastin's spazzy friend from the pumpkin patch). Drove back home in yet more falling snow. Sigh. I'm betting there will be snow on the ground on our property until March 1st. We'll check back later and see if I'm right.

My friend Shelly asked me, when we sat down to visit, how my week has been. An innocuous question. I thought, "Well, I never got started again on piano lessons with the girls, like I intended. And I still haven't gotten the vehicle registrations changed over to Iowa yet. But I got the dog to the vet, and made some other necessary appointments for us. And I picked up from the library all the books I needed for this month's astronomy unit, and we got caught up in Spanish. But I never did get started on the book I told the girls I would read with them for independent reading. Nor did I finish that last chapter of Affluenza, or get started re-reading those couple books I read over the holidays and need to digest more . . . "

And then it hit me: why is my first inclination to judge my week by how productive I've been? By how much I've gotten done? Is that really the primary characteristic of a good week, or day, or month, for me? Well, apparently it is . . but should it be?

Why didn't I think first about my physical condition? "Well, I got a shaky start to my 'diet' -- haven't been very good about that. But I've been sleeping better, and I finally found an adult dance class I'm going to start next week . . "

Why didn't I consider my relationships? "Well, I haven't spent much significant time with Keith this week, so that's the pits. But Leslie and I had some good time together while Eastin was at church Wednesday night. And I'm starting to realize that Eastin's general behavior seems to be better when I give her more one-on-one time -- good to know. Plus we had the neighbors over to celebrate Keith's birthday, and that was a fun visit. And I got reconnected with a couple of good college friends on Facebook . . "

Why didn't I reflect on my intellectual and spiritual growth? "Well, my old college friend and I have had a lot of intellectually-stimulating discussions. I finally found out why Pluto isn't considered a planet anymore -- and the difference between a meteor and a meteorite. My morning devotional times have been consistent, even if not as rich as at other times. I really enjoyed the sermon last Sunday . . "

But, no. My FIRST thought is of what I did and didn't "get done". Shelly and I were talking today about how comfort can become an idol in our lives. So can the to-do list.

Now, how to apply this profound insight without letting our lives fall apart because nothing gets done. Because, of course, our lives will fall apart if I don't get things done. Right?

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