Last weekend, I went to a GIG.
The last time I went to see someone play live it was probably Placebo, or Crowded House, back in their (and my) heyday.
Don’t judge me.
I’d genuinely forgotten how exhilarating live music is.
The beat through your feet, up into your heart, pounding in your head and ringing in your ears, the atmosphere of the crowd, the movement and mood created by lots of people in one space – none of them under 3 foot and demanding sole possession of the Ikea pink plastic cup.
For the first time in a long time, I felt ALIVE.
While NOT HAVING SEX.
Because actually, that’s something I struggle with.
(Remembering I’m alive – not not having sex).
There are very few moments in my life, right now, that are truly mine.
And I often find it hard to BE in them, when they come along.
There is always so much to be done, so many deadlines, so many responsibilities, so many interdependencies, that I end up living in a constantly ticking-over To Do list.
You’ve probably got your own List.
And sometimes, sometimes it takes over.
For me, when The List gets out of hand, it means my eye is always on what’s next, what’s got to happen before the next thing can happen, what adulting I need to tick off right now before someone starts yelling at me – from my boss, to the school office, to people who need their bills paid, to the children who need their tea/playdate/project/insert-random-Small-Person-goal-here.
Boy, adulting is TOUGH. And The List is relentless…
It’s particularly gruelling living under The List at the moment, because I’m trying to sell my house, and sift through 20 years of rubbish to downsize to a new one. It’s adulting on acid. And I DON’T KNOW if there’s drains or wires crossing the property. I CAN’T REMEMBER when we had the damn windows done, and if I have to make another tip trip halfway across the city I’m going to SCREAM. (Also if I meet any more mahoosive spiders in the garage).
There is also always washing to sort, bags to pack, forms to fill in, errands to run, chores to do, and places to be by certain times, hurry up, put your shoes on, WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE.
If I stop, The List just keeps piling up ready to break in at 3am, and whirl endlessly around my head.
Sometimes writing The List down can tame it.
Other times, it just confirms that it’s a really, really TWONKINGLY LONG LIST.
Right now, it’s like I am always on a countdown trajectory to bedtime, theirs and mine, going through The List of what needs to be done to get to the next day without getting into deep or difficult waters, and then starting all over again from the top. And never, ever reaching the end.
The trouble is, that in the thunder of doing, in my enslavement to The List, I miss out on LIVING.
I am too focussed on the next moment and the path to it, to enjoy the one I’m in. And even the nice stuff ends up feeling like things I’ve just got to tick off and move on from.
Watching the Dropkick Murphys gave me no choice but to be there and to FEEL.
The noise, heat, life, beat filled me up and pushed out everything else, buoyed me up, so I could just… be.
There was no room for The List.
And that’s something I need more of.
So this week I’ve been trying to remember the things that fill me up, that allow me to feel present, and happy, and ALIVE. All the things that transcend The List. And then to do more of them.
So here’s my ALTERNATIVE To Do List:
1. Listen to music
I don’t use it enough to change my mood and our mood as a family – and it’s right there on tap in my house. Yay Spotify! And when the roller coaster of TO DO is about to tip me over the edge, I’m going to use it.
I love to dance. At the moment I still have a big living room. I can PHYSICALLY shake off the weights pulling me away from the ‘moments’ I should be savouring. And I can teach the Smalls how to use it to do the same.
3. Have sex
Recently my go to solution for remembering I’m alive.
4. Talk to friends
I forget so easily how much I enjoy being with other people. When The List gets too long I batan down the hatches and attempt to power through, go to bed and try and get enough rest in to tackle it the next day. I don’t go out, brainstorm, ask for help, or take respite in others’ company or experiences. I get such a buzz from connection, I just need to remember to… connect.
I’ve struggled to write in recent weeks. I’ve got so much to say, things I can’t say, thoughts I can’t form, and other things that just seem to take priority. Like packing.
But look, here I am getting over myself and just doing it without creating imaginary barriers!!! Go me. And it DOES make me feel more present.
I love to play. I’m probably the only person over 35 in the whole world who genuinely LOVES PLAY CENTRES.
Don’t judge me again.
But when there’s so damn much to do, playing too often goes to the very bottom of The List – if it makes it on there at all. Playing takes energy, and when all that’s going on the adulting, accessing your inner kid is HARD.
This week though, I spent an entire day with the Small Small getting ‘stuck’ speaking in nonsense every other time she kissed me. With a lot of wild gesticulation – and a LOT of laughing.
And that – that’s LIVING.
Not existing. Not listing – sideways, about to capsize.
The thing is, with The List, you see, is there ISN’T an end.
It’s a trick, to drown you.
And it LIES.
It helps perpetuate that nagging sense I’m not enough, not doing enough, not being enough, not achieving enough…
But when I get out from under it – when you get out from under yours – when you’re really present and really alive and really yourself, when you remember to let yourself fill up, and let that anchor you in the moment – you ARE enough.
And this last week I actually felt it – in Rose Tattoo in Birmingham, in a 4 year-olds laugh in the car, and in dancing to ‘Holding out for a Hero’ in the living room.
I felt it, and it felt wonderful.
So if you have currently lost yourself in a List, if you are sinking under its weight, try making a new one…
I’d love to hear what’s on it.