October 08, 2014

Lists: reprise and update

Here’s a re-post from a while back about a book. I now know the name of it:  The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon. Thanks to Jo Edgett for letting me know.  

So…here’s the post: 

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.


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