I’ve spent the last month planning the next year: daily checklists, weekly checklists, monthly checklists, a prioritized list of drop-dead-due dates, creative goals, lifetime goals and yet another checklist of resolutions that, like the items on every other list, accumulate every year and never get done. There are separate lists for health, home repair, parenting and networking, to name a few. The lists swell over time and give birth to sublists and sub-sublists but still occupy only a few kilobytes of space on my phone, laptop, desktop or wherever else I can put them, leaving plenty of space for even more lists. Pre-internet-era creature of habit that I am, I will often scribble a plan for the next hour on a sticky note so as not to sink too deeply into the electronic-list swamp.
It occurs to me that it would be easier to simply die than trying to accomplish all of these goddamn things on all of these goddamn lists. This idea comes much more readily than the idea that “perhaps the world will not end if I simply fail to accomplish some (or even most) of these things.” In fact, in my original draft of this column, I started that last sentence with the word “naturally,” because it seems so natural to me that it didn’t strike me as unnatural until I put it in writing.
For those of my ilk — workaholics, would-be overachievers, conscientious-to-a-fault do-gooders, etc. — the holidays can be a time to reflect on just how miserable our uniquely American work ethic has made us and how miserable we’d like to be in the year to come. In the sacred stillness provided by these few days, a window opens, and some of us leap through it.Read More ›