While away on a girl’s trip a few weeks ago, my phone broke. After the shock of the shattering subsided, I accepted no access to my online world, and experienced one of the best weekends of my life. On the drive home my sister and two sIL’s commented on how different I’d been during our stay. As we talked we realized not having my phone played a huge part in being totally free to experience whatever the weekend brought.
And it held a ton of goodies waiting to say yes to:
Reading and sun? check.
Plenty of time to float in restorative salty water? yes.
No time limits, have to’s or should’s? yep.
Oyster shooters? I’ll take another.
Then I got home and encountered my nemesis: The List. The List decrees what’s important and what needs to be accomplished in a day. And after being at the beach for several days Everything Item on The List Demanded my Full attention. There’s only one problem with my to-do list: it doesn’t make me happy or help me stay present at all. It keeps me active and spinning, co-dependent and Super Busy, but not happy or free. And I noticed it all because of the broken phone. Because of all the space created by not having a phone I actually felt how bad and rigid having a list makes me feel. When I remain tied to that to-do monster and stuck in accomplishing and performing mode, I stay disconnected from myself, from others and from God.
Having the very recent data about how much I thrived without the tether of my phone, I chose to take it one step further and break my to-do list. The seed began as a suggestion from my therapist and is blossoming into a a whole new awakened way of life. No more check lists, grocery lists, any kind of list.
My desire’s to be connected to my own heart throughout the day, and what the day has for me is much more at the surface now. When I have a thought like “today would be a great day to go pick pears and make a pie…” I don’t immediately try hard to fit it in somewhere on next week’s to-do list. I just pull over and pick.
Not having a list is also making me way more human. No more super-woman I can do/remember/be everything. I actually told one of my children, “I really don’t know if I’ll be able to pick up the bread, because my list broke. But I will try.” Doesn’t that sound healthy and human?!?! Also – it’s surrender. If it’s important it will happen, and if not, then it will come around again. Or not. What is ‘it’anyway? Without a list, I feel like I have more choices and choices equal possibility and possibility equals expansion for life to be something I cannot anticipate, control or explain!
I had picked the pears and I was enjoying peeling them, sampling them and singing! I noticed how juicy each pear was from all the rain we’ve had this year, when I heard my 10 year old calling me from outside. His voice was distressed as he pointed to the field where we keep the chicken pens. “Mom, Look! all the chickens are out!!” As I squinted into the almost-setting sun, I saw countless white and brown birds pecking their way through the field. Un-contained chickens are not my specialty, so I called my super farmer brother, Justin. He said he’d be over in 10 minutes so I whisked thru my pie making, sliding it into the oven just as he fishtailed into the driveway.
I walked quickly out to the field and noticed that he’d thought to bring a helper too: his 2 1/2 year old son, Henry. We figured out that herding the chickens into the lanes created by the line of pens made catching the birds pretty easy. I love birds in general, but am a bit squeamish about touching live chickens, so it was a stretch for me. At first I was just a herder, getting them into position for West and Justin to catch. But towards the end I got much better at grabbing those quick creatures. We caught 1 bird, then 2, then 5, 10 (there were well over 200 to catch and re-contain) as we worked, Henry began calling out from his place in the field.
“Look, Dad! Look, Aunt Liberty! Look, West! The Sun! It’s going away! No I mean it really look!! Look! Look, Dad! it’s going down! Look! Look! Aunt Liberty!” Every few minutes another reminder to check out the flaming orange, purple and fuscia sky. Every few minutes calling out his heart’s desire for us to join him in enjoying the beauty we were standing knee deep in.
After we got done with the catching and before we had all the tools to repair the pens, I took a break, sat down and just listened. I heard West and Henry wrestling in the deep grass. I heard the soft cheeping of all those birds we’d just caught. I heard the symphony of crickets and cicadas and I marveled the last sprays of a stunning sunset. I felt myself really alive and connected to this valuable moment.
Being dialed into my heart, I recognized that without a list I was savoring the entire experience. I was truly present. Not busy spinning and wondering how I would get everything else done, in fact I wasn’t thinking of ‘everything else’ at all.
The interruption, the great chicken escape had turned out to be an evening I couldn’t quite explain. The evening ended up full of connection to myself, to West, justin and Henry and the One who created all the beauty around me. It ended up being more positive data on living without a List, without all the (supposed!) have to’s and should’s. So many goodies to say yes to!!
West and I walked home at dusk thru tall grass and the oven timer was going off – the pear pie was ready. And one of my best friends was standing in my kitchen waiting to know where I’d been. After I explained the chicken adventure, she asked if we could take a walk together. I felt so happy to be free enough to accept her invitation.