Monday, November 1, 2010

just one thing

There are a great many blogs out there that I enjoy - some I've listed on the side panel, some I pop over to when I think of it. Some I click when I see the link on Twitter. Some I stumble down a rabbit hole, read voaraciously and can never find again. But there are only two blogs that I have delivered to my email so as not to miss an update, and the king of those is the handsome and erudite Jonathan Fields.

Today Jonathan addressed one of my pet peeves - bucket lists. It's not that I have anything against bucket lists per se. It's just that in the last year or two they seem to have become so commonplace as to be cliché (and there's nothing I despise more than a cliché). Too often they are either, as Jonathan addresses, a someday/maybe kind of experience. Or, the worse offence in my opinion, they are simply an occassion for pretension to being learned, being adventurous, and being accomplished. They are yet one more modern expression of self-indulgence. I've rarely seen a bucket list that says something like "I want to be the kind of friend someone can say anything to and know it is safe," or "I want to comfort a grieving widow just by listening to her stories," or, "I want to inspire someone to finish or return to school."

This may sound like sour grapes, to some, and I'm sorry if you hear that. I've actually had some pretty amazing experiences in my life and I look forward to a great many more of all sorts. But as much as I love being a world-travelling adventure, it doesn't define me, and writing out the things I am looking forward to experiencing won't inspire me to do them any more than buying organic produce inspires me to eat well (what's with that??).

/End Rant/

You can imagine then that when Jonathan's post titled "The Bucket List Lie" arrived in my inbox, I was already a believer. My favourite blogger blogging against my pet peeve? This I had to read! Although I'm less convinced than Jonathan that few people manifest the items on their bucket lists, we're on the same page overall. Even if people do cross off some items, I still see the medium as fundamentally flawed. And that's where Jonathan comes in. Never one to condemn without offering a solution, Jonathan suggests a great alternative: the List of One:
... make a List of One. A single, meaningful action you’re going to take before the end of the day to move you one step closer to a single, deeply meaningful quest.
Don’t go to bed tonight until you’ve completed your List Of One. And done one other thing, made your List Of One for tomorrow.
Do this every day for a month, long enough to begin to inculcate the habit.
If it feels manageable, turn it into a List Of Two. And so on, and so on.
Execute on your list consistently over time and you’ll begin to make magic unfold. Not “someday,” but everyday.
The timing is perfect. I had been looking for a personal challenge to take on in November that would move me closer to my goals of being healthy, wealthy and wise. And since I have a tendency to take on 14 things with vigour and then give up, and REALLY wanted to avoid that this time. The List of One is simple. Elegant. Perfect.

Just one thing. One act of love and generosity. One moment of self-care. One item crossed off the list of things I normally ignore. One step in the direction I intend my life to go.

So I declared my One Thing for today and went for it. I half succeeded, and felt the joy of playing. And I will play again tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. Just one thing.

Now, if you could do Just One Thing tomorrow, what would it be?

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