legacies in old lists

I am looking for a word, and I’m not sure whether that word even exists. As I’ve written about on several occasions, I’ve been spending some time recently going through old lists, doing occasional pruning, and bringing my collection of many small lists into one single list containing all listable things.

One thing I’ve learned through this exercise of list consolidation is that I do like my lists. Lists upon lists upon lists and I keep finding lists, tucked away in places I didn’t expect to find old lists. And it is also interesting the extent to which I am circling around a few ideas that keep rearing their heads in these lists.

But the word I’m looking for is a word describing an item that keeps getting moved from one list to the next, never acted upon. And yes, the reason why such a thing exists is in part my old fried procrastination, the not grasping of that particular nettle. But here, I want to highlight the difference between the why such a thing exists, and what that thing is and how we denote that thing.

It’s not quite a fixed point, not in the way I understand fixed points from my limited engagement with dynamical systems. That it, it’s not that I’m transforming my life one day to the next (acknowledging a subtle and unintended pun here), or one week to the next or one month to the next, with this one thing persisting through all of these transformations.

Rather, it’s more the rock in the river of my life; my days flow by but leave this thing essentially untouched.

One of the interesting thing about such things, is that they acquire a peculiar weight over time. The task itself doesn’t change; the thing to be done remains the thing to be done, perhaps with an accumulated understanding of what would be required to undertake or complete the task, if I’ve done some investigation.

But it is as though the non-completion of the task, the non-engagement with the task, comes with an accumulated weight that increases with the number of days or weeks or months (or years) for which the thing, the task has been on the list.

There is a strange relief when the task gets done, as they do on occasion, and the completion leaves a hole in the shape of future lists. But I do think there should be a word for such a thing, as well as some words to describe the various stages of its lifecycle: its moment of conception; the early days when the hope of quick completion exists; its spread into middle age; and either its immortality or its completion.

I have a few of these, enough that I now have a LEGACY section in my list, as though to remind myself that these tasks have been on the list for far too long and perhaps soon, their time will come. Perhaps. We’ll see.

~ by Jim Anderson on 23 January 2022.

One Response to “legacies in old lists”

  1. Ironically, there are several interesting phrases in this piece, that could go in a list, as potential titles or first lines:

    The Rock in the River of My Life
    Moving, Yet Never Acting
    Days Flowing By, Leaving Life Untouched
    The Legacy of Lists

    Always happy to help.

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