October 30th is National Checklist Day which seems like a good precursor to Halloween, because…Scary! Especially as my Number One To-Do is to shed my checklist mindset and move to something more natural. Because after all, we are more nature, more art, than we are machine. And in nature and art there are few checklists. There are seasons and cycles, serendipity and tragedy. There‘s deep forest chaos and sudden summit vistas. There are lapping waves and frothing river currents. But there are mighty few checklists. Perhaps upon the first frost, the squirrels start thinking about how many more nuts they will need to collect, and perhaps the trees fret about shedding that last bit of foliage before snowfall, but my guess is they just go about their business until they’re tired and then they rest. We create checklists to give us a sense of control rather than seeing it as the clear indication it is that we should perhaps think about simplifying. And while we have been trained to expect and even admire a super busy, complicated life, we also cherish being in the zone, which is a space when all else disappears including, especially, the checklists and we just exist in the moment. Free from to-dos, we are more creative and more joyful and that’s where I want to spend more time. So I’m working on moving away from the to—do’s and toward composing my life and the days in it as I would a landscape painting. When I’m looking at a scene for the perfect composition to paint, it is often a primary focal point that draws me in as that is often what pulls me to a painting from across the room. In a good painting we’re rewarded for stepping in a little closer with other more minor optical magnets, spread like breadcrumbs for our eyes to follow, often without being aware of it as we visually stroll through the painting. What if we thought of our days more like a viewer of fine art? At the end of today, take a step back and think about your day as you would a painting. What was the primary memory magnet? What was the focal point, the centerpiece as it were? For me it’s often a walk with a friend. A couple of days ago a friend and I were walking toward the river when a noisy line of geese passed over the field we walked along side, honking as they passed over us on their way toward the river and beyond. What a sight, what sounds. It was the highlight of my day. In my old way of thinking those geese would be a pleasant distraction and my walk a lovely break in a day otherwise filled with things to do because the goal is to get stuff done! But now? The geese! The walk! At the end of the day, this is what I want to think back on. This is the masterpiece I want to reflect upon. Those plump dark bodie
s swimming against the grey September sky. The peek we got into their community, their mission, their world. We stood there as onlookers but connected by sights and sounds to their world. Our priorities, our goals, our stuff subordinated (literally!) to their lofty flight. It was magic.
Just thinking about it slows my heart rate and makes me smile. I’ve learned this is called a glimmer. Which is a great name for a happy trigger. At the end of the day, and at the end of my days, it is these glimmers, these connections to the real world, w
here just being present is enough, which I hope will fill my heart.