Thursday, 20 May 2021

A List As Long As A Leg - Joan Lennon

I am a short person in a household of tall people.  My oldest son is used as a unit of measurement on a regular basis.  ('How big is that shark?' ' Three and a half Jamies!' 'Wow!')  And recently, I have been making a To Do list.  Not just a daily one, or a weekly one.  I make those all the time.  And I don't mean a Household To Do list.  'Tidy your room' has been on every list I've ever made, I think, in a long life of list making.  No, this one is work related and contains every hemi-demi-semi, it-might-be-fun-to, I-better-write-this-down-or-I'll-forget-it project, every competition whose deadline hasn't long gone, every possible submission link that might even remotely fit something I may or may not have written.  And when I say the list is as long as a leg, it's not my leg I'm speaking of.

a picture of a list

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The list is reassuring.  It makes me feel adult, and in control, and properly professional.  But then something happens.  Almost as soon as I print a list out, I find more things to add to it, and I realised there was a thing I do that maybe you don't.

Question A: If you find yourself doing something that really should have been included in your list, do you immediately add it, so that you can immediately tick it off?

Question B: What does that tell us about ourselves?

And in the spirit of getting things rolling, my answers are:

A: Yes.  Every time.

B: I find my pleasures where I can ...?  Or it could be that I just don't believe something's true unless it's written down.

Gustave Courbet Le Desespere (1841) 

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But why have I ended on this self-portrait of the artist as an extremely good-looking, if somewhat harassed, young man?  It's because of a dream.  Not, I hasten to add, a dream of being an extremely good-looking young man.  Not had that one in ages.  No, it's the dream of a book that I've somehow forgotten about, whose deadline looms, whose research notes have become scattered and mislabelled in the dark recesses of my computer, and who is burying me in an avalanche of deeply hurt feelings.  You loved me.  How could you have forgotten me?

It's a recurring dream, and the feeling of guilt can last the whole next day.  I'm nearly almost completely sure no such book exists - there's certainly nothing like it on my list - and yet ...

Joan Lennon Instagram


Susan Price said...

When that possibly forgotten book comes guilting you again, wave the books you have written at it. They are actual and so good! Then throw some of your wonderful poems at it. That should see it off.

Penny Dolan said...

Think I'll stick to worrying about the lists - and adding things now done - and avoid any dreams like that horridly threatening dream-book.

Sue's advice is spot on!

Anne Booth said...

I agree with Susan and Penny - but also - maybe you can wave your books and poems at it and invite it to speak up a bit louder and join the wonderful gang! Tell it you would love to meet it, but it isn't making things easier filling you with guilt - that it would be better if it filled you with Joy! Who knows what will happen?!

Joan Lennon said...

Thanks - these are cunning ploys - will give them a try next time!

Susan Price said...

Oh yes, Anne's idea is the best. Who knows what the bad book might say if invited to speak?