December 10, 2009

List of lists – re-post and update

Now I know, this book is called The Pillow Book by  Sei Shonagon. Thank you, Jo Edgett.

Years ago, I flipped through a book at a friend’s house and have since regretted not buying my own copy. It was a books of lists written many years ago, if I recall, by a Japanese woman of noble birth. The noble birth was what allowed her, I suppose, to spend years writing lists. Likes, dislikes, sub-categorized by colours, foods, birds, animals, sounds, smells and an ocean of other listable objects and/or types.

The hope of owning that book is lost to me now – I forget the title, the writer and have no guess as to how to search for it, even in this age of the search engine.  I remember its charm and whimsey, the delicate nature of the records, the tiny observations that verged on precious, but I can’t find it.

I have my own lists now – not obsessive, not orderly, but I have them.

On-paper, I refer to these: to-do; grocery; travel; wine; birthday cards. Off-paper, there are: likes; dislikes; fears; loves; hates; grudges; things I should have said; things I should not have said; things I should have taken back after I said them (impossible); bad shows; good shows; no-shows; performance invitations I declined that I should have accepted and vice versa; secret material wishes; things I would change physically – character flaws, too; huge gaffes both professional and personal; long harboured bad deed guilts; lies I wish I hadn’t told; truths I wish I hadn’t told; animal names for when I again have a dog; letters I didn’t answer; favourite chip flavours in descending order; regrets.

These come off the top of my head at the moment, of course – there are many other lists I have missed. Of the above, however, regret stands out. It’s the one I least regret.

I could list many bad decisions, but given the richness of my life right now, I feel that I’ve made only a few mistakes. Others might disagree. If necessary, they could make a list of the dozens of stumbles and almost purposeful missteps that turned me away from opportunity, took me down the path of stupid.

For now, I’m sticking to my own list of lists. A fellow songwriter once wrote “my face is a map of my time here”.  My face is not so poetic. My lists are a map of my life. So far.



2 Responses to “List of lists – re-post and update”
  1. Jo Edgett

    I love your blog, Susan. And I think what you’re looking for is “The Pillow Book” by Sei Shonagon.

    Your book-wrangling friend,

  2. Jane Greening

    We all have our lists. Some good, some bad. We wouldn’t be human without them.