Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where Am I Going?

Try early in life to find an unobtainable objective.

George Wald
Every day I make a list of all the things I want to do tomorrow. Included on the list is making a list for the next day. Some of the things on my list for today are simple things, like trimming my fingernails and cleaning the kitchen counter. Among the more serious and complicated things is writing my journal for the next day, which I am doing right now.

My life was not caotic and undisciplined before I started making lists. It was merely that I would become so involved with what I was doing I would forget about other important things. So now they're on the list (if I remember to put them there, that is). The problem with the list is that now I feel as if I have all these obligations. I never accomplish everything on the list so they get moved over to the next day. It isn't that I feel guilty about it. It's more a matter of feeling that I have to be busy all the time. A polite but insistent imp in my conscience is saying "What are you doing now?" If the answer is "I'm waiting for the coffee water to boil" then the little devil asks if I should find some small task to do in the meantime, wash a dish, trim my moustache. If I prefer to sit and think about something, why should I feel guilty?

I have come to believe and appreciate two important things. One is that thinking is what a challenged and treacherous life is all about. "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much, such man are dangerous>" Shakespeare. Yes, I am dangerous. I think "too much." I am armed and dangerous. Armed with ideas and observations that upset the mental apple carts, my own and others.

Also in my bag of beliefs is the view that the journey of life is an endless one because the destination is never reached. I did a play in which one character spoke about working many years and saving up money to buy a house, then when you buy the house and move into it where are you? That existential question was never answered by the playwright.

If you take the A Train going south from Manhattan you can eventually reach Far Rockaway, one of the distant out posts of New York City. But if you get off at the last stop and walk east a couple of blocks you will be in the town of Inwood, New York. It's in Nassau County, not part of New York City.

Being a northeasterner I am used to towns and villages abutting each other, even across state lines. When I hitchhiked to California in 1960 I was astonished at how far I had to go to reach the next town. Once past the big river everything stretched out to pasture, farmland, desert and open spaces. When evening came and I was walking I would yearn to see lights ahead, hoping for a diner, a truck stop or any sliver of civilization. I had a very clear sense of destination. Just get somewhere.

As I think (too much) about these things I wonder if there is ever any real destination at all. Life is unfinished business, another task to do, another meal to be prepared, another day to plan, another visit, another thing to learn, another discovery, another realization, another destination on the long walk. If we finally get to heaven we will probably have things to do, lists to make, places to go and things to think about. I hope so.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

8 responses so far.

Thank you.


Gerry said...

You quoted one of my long time favorites from Shakespeare, "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous." It was my absolute goal in life to meet as many such dangerous men as possible, and I did find that the best thinkers could sometimes be unsettling.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I put Breathe deeply on my list....

Big Mark 243 said...

I will have to give this a little more pondering... good post though.

Lisa said...

Actually Dr Charles Stanley says we do have assigned tasks in Heaven...I say, fooey, how can that be Heaven! I want to dispose of my to do list and the things I have to do!!

I bet hitchhiking to CA was an experience!

Nance said...

I keep what I call The Run-On List in a small notebook. There's no beginning or end to it. Things get crossed off as they do; I highlight the ones that I've been avoiding for a few days in a row. Eventually, it all gets done.

Meanwhile, with age, I find that I am lost in thought more and more of the time. I've seen that age-related trait described as both healthy and unhealthy, as a superior processing method and as a deficiency. Whatever it might be, I'm stuck with it, and--secretly--it feels like home to me.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I would say you need some new list entries; sit and contemplate something, spend some time doing nothing, couch time with feet elevated on pillow...

Lori said...

I'm afraid I'm not as dangerous as I used to be. ;)