I stopped looking at my to-do list last week.
It wasn’t really a cognitive decision. It was more like throwing my hands in the air and surrendering.
White flag waving.
I give up, you win. I lose. Whatever.
My days are like an American football game, where the team with the highest score has the ball and there’s only a minute left on the clock. They go through the motions. Put the ball into play, pretend to shove and jostle each other, let the clock run. They do it again, pretending at playing the rest of the game, but really only letting the clock run out until the game is officially over.
Clearly, obviously, the game was really over when the score was so out of balance it was pointless to keep playing. No way the other team could catch up, even with a miracle pass or two. The fans in the stands have been leaving since that last big score, maybe sooner than that. Kind of pointless.
That’s how it seems.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of the fans, I can’t simply leave the stadium and go home. I’m one of the players. Pretending at the game, but my heart isn’t in it. And, guess what? I’m not on the winning team, either.
My to-do list is the opponent in the football game. No matter how hard I try, how many hours I work at it, I will never catch up to the other team. They have the ball.
I’m not normally winning this to-do list game, but this one, the Women’s Holiday Bowl is always a blowout. The clock runs out on December 25.
I’ve put up and decorated a tree. There are bright shiny lights outside on the house. I’ve bought a few gifts.
Three points for me. Yay!
Now the winning team’s score: They are ahead by an obscene amount of points. Add to the other team’s score everyone else’s expectations and my own expectations. The cluttered house is points against me. The piled up mountain of clean, but wrinkling, unfolded laundry puts me further behind the game. The neglected plants, the science experiments in the refrigerator, the overflowing garbage, the avalanching desk are more points for the other team. Add in the points of undone Holiday tasks, errands, baking, mailing, wrapping, shopping, decorating and the game is a rout.
White flag, I surrender. I won’t play the game anymore. The to-do list team has won.
So I stopped looking at the to-do list.
Instead, I listen to relaxing, no lyrics, seasonal music. I smile at the pretty glowing lights on the tree. I anticipate seeing my daughter who is flying in from out-of-state for a week-long visit. My heart warms to the thought of my sister who’s planning a trip here.
I put away the boxes of decorations that won’t go up this year. I go to bed at a reasonable hour, no late nights for me. I read a book, a tangible, in the hands hard copy, turning pages slowly, savoring the words, rereading sentences that resonate.
I wake up without feeling panicked. I stick to my usual routine.
The to-do list team builds, grows, looms, plays the game, racking up points, while I go about my life humming and attempting an aura of obliviousness. I want to feel happy about things, not let it bother me. I want to emit a sense of carefree abandon.
I don’t think anyone is buying it.
The severely out of balance game is humiliating to watch and even worse to participate in.
I’m ready for the locker room.
Or the padded room.