the richness of old lists

I am a maker and keeper of lists. I have lists of mathematical projects, writing ideas, blog ideas, tasks that need to be done soon, tasks to be completed at some indeterminate point in the near to medium term future. Lists, lists, lists.

Some lists I write on random scraps of paper, items to be crossed off when completed or transcribed into more permanent lists. Some lists I keep in my daily journal, pages in which are full of items crossed out and occasionally circled, for particular attention. My list of writing ideas I keep on my computer, scraps and fragments, to be printed out and explored from time to time.

I have a drawer in my desk of blank journal volumes, each waiting patiently for its turn to come. I went through that drawer recently, finding one journal that I’d inexplicably put back in the drawer only half completed, and other volumes with nascent lists on their first few pages.

One reason I like finding an old list is that it provides a window in a moment of a before time. A reminder of things that had been occupying my attention, of things catching my eye. Very occasionally, of something that remains to be completed.

The writing list is a collection of beads, some bright and shiny, some dull because I don’t remember the thought that gave rise to the idea, to be strung onto the string of a plot or a character, to give rise to a story.

The mathematical list is as much as anything the list of things to understand, distant acquaintances that intrigued me when we first met, with whom I’d like to spend significantly more time. And I’ll get to spend some time with them soon, come the new year.

One reason that lists are on my mind, despite the several different themes that are inhabiting my recent posts here, is that I’m coming to the end of my current journal volume and I’m looking forward to the new volume, and the items that will be part of its initial list.

~ by Jim Anderson on 31 October 2021.

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