I’ve always been an inveterate list-maker. Maybe it’s just because I have to write things down in order to believe they are real. I believe it’s also because list-making reduces my stress.
About twenty years ago, I was undergoing a particularly stressful time. I was in the throes of changing jobs, moving to a new state, selling my house and buying a new one, hunting for a new school for my daughter, and saying goodbye to friends. There was a lot to do. My lists were long, and getting longer.
No matter how diligently I wrote everything I had to do down on my ever-growing lists, I was haunted by the feeling that there was something I was forgetting. I was sure it was an important something. But the only time I remembered what that something was, was when I was asleep. Nearly every night I’d have the same dream – I dreamt I remembered the something. I would wake up, breathe a sigh of relief, and then go back to sleep. In the morning I remembered having the dream, remembered waking up, remembered the relief — but I never remembered the “something” itself.Finally one night when I woke up after the dream, I got out of bed, stumbled across the room to my desk, and scribbled “the something” down on a scrap of paper, making a list. Then I went back to sleep.
In the morning when I awoke, again I remembered the dream, remembered waking up, and still did not remember the something. Ah, but that didn’t matter now! I had written it down on a list! Saved at last! I scampered over to my desk, excited and filled with curiosity about what I would find.
This is what my list said:
???? To this day I still have not figured out what those words meant. I do not know what my subconscious was trying to tell me. Maybe it was just playing a joke on my conscious mind – you know, kind of a “gotcha.” But the really interesting thing is that from that time onward, my feeling of having forgotten something important went away and never came back.
I have come to believe that the point of this story is that what you write is not as important as the act of writing.
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