“I am a human being, not a human doing.” Such a trite little New Ageism, probably coined by Stuart Smalley, back before Al Franken became a US Senator.
Actually, I did come across a blurb that encapsulates the sentiment:
“I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t…you aren’t.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
The To-Do List is, as we all know, never done. NEVER. What a freaking recipe for disaster. Even if every item were ever crossed off, another five or so would stand up, front and center, to remind us of our basic, gnawing, inadequacy. Sweet.
I have a colleague who writes stuff down and shoves it in his pocket, a sort of deconstructed to-do list. There is a certain genius in this, I think, not because it is foolproof and he will never forget something, but because he WILL. There is space for a human being to accidentally wash away the reminder of the human doing when the jeans hit the wash with one pocket uncleared. Disaster? Hardly. I, for one, need to remember from time to time that the world is, in fact, NOT going to come crashing to a halt if something on the list slips through the cracks.
But what if it’s something important?
Really? Is it? Will it be in a year? Will it result in someone being deeply hurt by me? Mostly, even seemingly crucial deadlines would, in fact, end up compromising my ego more than anything else. For me, some of my most egregious errors probably were in the following category: I am freaking out and sick to my stomach about the message I am getting that there is no way I can do enough or be good enough at work—and that pain and fear makes me edgy and impatient with my loved ones. Oh, yeah, priorities straight as an arrow there. Doing a couple more hours of data recording for my teaching job is going to take care of everything.
What will take care of everything? How the hell do I know? I suspect it has to do with shutting up and letting my son’s words wash over me when I am overwhelmed: “You’re the best Mom ever.” When I forget, he tells me again.
I was reading something the other day that gently reminded me of the fact that we really are all just a mess and that’s okay and no one knows how the hell we’re going to traverse the next little bit. So we try to make a little to-do roadmap and it never feels as neat as we think it should. Because to-do keeps on collecting, tenacious, like dust.
“You’re the best mom ever.” It is super shiny, every time! No to-do attached! What a relief.