Making Lists – a list of lists

Yesterday’s post set me thinking… I’ll stick to lists today, and to my habit of making them… I suppose everyone makes lists once in a while, even if it is just a grocery-shopping list. Well, I am making lists of just about everything.  I have a weird ‘relationship’ with lists; sometimes it feels as if making the list is more important than doing what’s on the list. Some of you might know the feeling… But there’s also something else there: the manual-physical aspect of a hand-written list on paper. Occasionally I try making my list in the computer or in my iPhone (if you have the technology why not use it?) Rationally it makes sense, it is much easier to delete things I have done and to insert new things that come along. Apparently I am not very rational as far as this is concerned… I want my lists handwritten on any kind or size of paper. I need the physical feel of paper, I need to be able to doodle on the edges when I’m thinking of what else has to be in that particular list, and last but not least, I need to strike through the things I have done. Pushing the ‘delete’ button doesn’t come anywhere near this feeling. Sounds familiar?

So I wanted to write about my lists today, because since my post yesterday I realized that I actually make too many lists about my work and my everyday life. The funny thing is that once I have written them down, I don’t really do very much with them: usually I put them aside, sometimes I stripe off things I finished, but more often I toss them in a pile or in a drawer… and later in the trash. So why do I make them? Is it merely a waste of time? The only reason I can think of now is that making the list clears my mind: I don’t have to think anymore of all the things I already wrote in that specific list, so my mind has the space and freedom to think of other things (which often results in making yet a new list…) I suppose that I get my priorities straight by making the lists: I write stuff down – I clear my mind – I put the list away (usually it automatically disappears in the mess of my atelier)… And then I do what I remember, and what I don’t remember… well, that was probably not so important anyway. (Now that I think of it I should have kept all these lists: by putting them all together I might make an intriguing piece of art 😉 )

Here is a list of some of my lists (in no specific order):

  • shopping list
  • chores list
  • general to do list
  • never-do-again list
  • list of places and countries to visit
  • list of projects to do
  • list of paintings to finish
  • list of ideas for new paintings
  • list of paintings to throw away or paint something else over them
  • list of the different blue’s and different red’s I have in oil paints
  • list of fears to overcome
  • list of ideas for short stories to write
  • list of illustrations to make
  • list of 365-days projects
  • list of books to read
  • list of friends who really listen
  • list of plants that can grow in our dark garden
  • list of things to renovate in our house
  • list of professions I would choose in another life
  • list of materials in stock in my atelier
  • list of easy recipes for when I can’t be bothered to think of what to cook
  • list of things I’d love to do before I’m too old to be able to do them
  • …..

By the way, the greek word for list is ‘lista’, but in dutch ‘list’ means something totally different. According to the van Dale dictionary: list = (concr.) trick, guile, ruse, scheme, wile; (abstr.) cunning, craft, deception

And now I am curious, are you also making lists?

detail from the 2011 agenda/diary/calendar by the Dutch magazine Flow

I just love this agenda! Especially this little note pad… The word ‘not’ in ‘things not to do’ is printed in all the pages. On the lower margin every page has a different text. Here: “You know what? Just leave the whole list for tomorrow.” In other pages texts like: ‘you made the list. Do you feel better now?’, ‘Will doing all the things of your list make you a better person?’, ‘ok, you wrote it, now throw it away’ or ‘and now erase five things off the list’


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