My journal is full of lists. To-do lists, a packing list for our Christmas trip, lists of words (did you know that “glazomania” means “a passion for list-making”?)… Yes, I almost just embarked on a comprehensive list of my lists. What IS it about lists that I love so much?
- Lists allow for compartmentalized chaos. (Kind of like my underwear drawer. Undies go IN the drawer, but they’re not rolled or folded or color-coded. They’re just contained.)
- Lists allow for concision and clarity. I could write paragraphs (which I might never re-read) about whatever weirdness is in my head, or I can just LIST. (Come to think of it, “clarity” may not be the word for what’s in my head…)
- A list can keep my head on straight. (See above, regarding lack of clarity!)
- A list can serve as a snapshot of a day. That’s one of the reasons I keep even mundane ones like to-do lists in my journal. (Well, that and the fact that I don’t lose them that way.) And after a vacation, it’s fun to glance at a list of what I packed, or what I paid for on the trip (experiences more often than things), or who we met…
I like “visual lists” too… I think that’s what appeals to me about Pinterest—my “boards” are really just list-titles, filled with things that appeal to me. I have a whole board of “Kana’s Color,” full of things that are turquoise… It serves NO useful purpose whatsoever, except to be appealing. Instagram, similar thing—my Instagram feed is nothing more than a visual list of things-I-noticed-today…
- I LOVE crossing things off of lists. Or marking a check-box. Anything that indicates accomplishment or progress. And yes, if I’m working off a list and do something significant that wasn’t on the list, I’ll add it just so I can cross it off. I have a daily-list app on my phone, purely for the satisfaction of feeling I’m doing something when I go about my day’s routines. (No, I’m not going to forget to “NOT drink alcohol,” but I feel good about checking that off at the end of every day.)
- I like the look of lists. I like to decorate them. Apparently a list is more inspiring than a blank page, in more ways than one.
I’m just wired this way! When I was writing “Entering the Lists,” I found a ton of articles explaining that we’re wired to like reading lists. I’m not sure if the gene for writing lists is on the same chromosome as the one for reading them, but I’m sure I’ve got both! (From the word-lists: “Hypergraphia”—a behavioral condition characterized by the intense desire to write… Hmm.)
If lists interest you too, you might enjoy this article (BBC) about a 2010 exhibit of lists made by famous people… (I especially liked an architect’s list of things-he-liked-about-his-wife… And an artist’s packing-list-comprised-of-sketches…)