I didn’t know till I was seated at a table across from the evening’s speaker that I had come, unwittingly, to a talk on fashion. I, who believe that God invented blue jeans so we wouldn’t have to think about such things, was about to get the scoop on what to wear, as though perhaps a small committee had met privately and hammered out the guidelines. As my wardrobe will convincingly attest, I learned no fashion tips that night, but the speaker did say one thing that to this day is etched onto my brain.
She began by saying that we will all die with to-do lists. She noted that our lists seem only to grow, never to shrink. And so, her wisdom was this:
Accept the fact that your to-do list will never be completed, and so, while you are whittling away at it, make relationships the centerpiece of your life.
This wise woman—dressed, I must say, most becomingly—suggested that we might trade in the frank impossibility of ever finishing a to-do list for the entirely possible endeavor of forming relationships that matter. I may not have her phrasing precisely as she spoke, but I’m quite sure of the meaning.
When it comes to our to-do lists, there is a behavior we persist in without rhyme or reason. With no evidence whatsoever that we can, or will, complete our list of tasks, nevertheless we get up every morning determined to give it just one more try. Every morning. Every day of our lives.
But what if, instead, today we got out of bed and said, “Today while I am nibbling away at my to-do list, I’m going to keep my focus centered on being with God and other people in ways that are loving and important, growing in bonds that will last for time and all eternity”?
Linda McCullough Moore is the author of more than 200 works of fiction, essay, memoir, and poetry, including a short story collection, a literary novel, and The Book of Not So Common Prayer (where you’ll find this story and many more). She lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches creative writing workshops.
From The Book of Not So Common Prayer ©2014 Linda McCullough Moore (Abingdon Press) Used by permission. All rights reserved.