I make a lot of lists.
Here's a list of some of the lists I make:
- To-do lists
- Place I've been
- Places I'd like to go
- Books I've read
- Books I want to read
- An annual family list of favorites from the past year
- Favorite words
- Music to try
Then, there are the many Uncommon lists:
- Dispatch ideas
- Prompt ideas
- Founding members
- Uncommon reads
- Prompt replies
- 10 Things Uncommon Will Never Do
- The Basecamp project for the next release (with 248 completed to-dos and 33 waiting to be checked off!)
Lists are an important piece of Uncommon's future site, too, starting with the list of our 10 favorite things in the world.
I'm fascinated by the different roles that lists play. Many times, they drive me toward something, providing guidance and momentum on the way to a distant goal. There are times when they are a source of stability, even comfort, when uncertainty is swirling around me; focus on what's next and keep moving forward. And sometimes, I must admit, lists serve as a sort of avoidance technique. I defer to the list to tell me what's next, but I know that the most important things aren't necessarily at the top. I can continue to make progress on small things, while something more significant, but also more complex and maybe, uncomfortable, remains untouched.
One of my favorite Dylan lyrics is: "I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still."
Lists can provide the appearance of progress, but in reality, leave us unchanged and unmoved. Sometimes, though, they can take us to places we've never been and we arrive, different than we were before, and with something to show for the journey.
Last week's dispatch asked, What is one of your guilty pleasures?
When no one is looking, I make a huge mess out of my work space and, ultimately, myself. It usually involves having chips for breakfast, strawberries for lunch, and nothing for dinner. I descend into this madness of zone where even going to the bathroom is highly interruptive. I snarl at intruders and guard the work-in-process tightly until I'm ready to ascend. I question if all this is necessary. In the process of destroying myself, it's had me create some of my best work in intense short bursts.
I don't feel guilty about any of my pleasures. To list something in that category would be to demean it. I shall not. :)
Licking peanut butter from a spoon. Immediately thereafter, licking peanut butter from a second spoon. And when the call of the wild is especially loud, I go for a third. Note that I use a new, clean spoon each time. I'm not an animal.
Pinterest is my guilty pleasure. It's a nice visual break from my otherwise word-filled computer time.
Dove Dark Chocolate squares. I love chocolate and the fact that this is marginal at best but served in a bite-sized piece means I won’t gorge myself.
Oh, of guilty pleasures there are so many to choose! Most of the musical ones aren't as embarrassing as they once were. Call it maturity, don'tgiveadamnness, or that special tingle I get from being "different" but I tend to love bands long after they have gone out of fashion. My best example of this: East of the Sun and West of the Moon by A-ha!
Another guilty pleasure is strange food combining; what's better than macadamia nut cheese on top of ginger snaps? I cannot imagine anything.
The guiltiest of pleasures is my obsession with motorcycle racing. I cannot get enough of it. I have two of my own motorcycles, and never have needed to exceed 3rd gear to achieve a distinct thrill. There's just something so beautiful about the graceful dance of MotoGP.
Very occasionally, celebrity gossip. On a more regular basis, eating junk food, especially sugary and fatty foods.
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made with the most fattening peanut butter and cloying sugar-drowned strawberry preserves you can imagine. I mean a big, fat one, like what you always wanted when you were a kid and your parents never put enough filler into your mostly-bread sandwich. When I was growing up, this stinginess compounded the greater injustice I never even noticed until adulthood: that my parents, confirmed health-food freaks, bought only natural peanut butter and sugar-free jelly, which might as well be cardboard to my tastebuds now. I try to eat good-quality food when I can, but once a week—on Saturday, when I leave the house to spend all day writing—I take for my lunch a massive, gooey, coma-inducing confection of Kroger brand peanut butter and jelly.
On whole wheat bread, because I’m not a maniac.
One of my great pleasures is musicals. I grew up watching Disney films, the Sound of Music, dancing and performing in amateur musicals. While I've given the performing aspect away (for now), I still watch and listen to musicals often. I love seeing people sing in general, and there is nothing that has me overcome with emotion more than seeing someone sing beautifully with all their heart, connected to a narrative that inevitably involves triumphing over adversity. While it may have once been a guilty pleasure, the older I get, the less apologetic I become about it, and now often I sing along in public, loudly.
The ‘Slow Web’ Movement Will Save Our Brains by Joshua Rivera:
It’s an interesting project in a series of interesting projects, but noteworthy for its inherent idealism. In an arena full of products that prioritize speed and efficiency above all else, here is an app that asks you to not just read one of our most difficult, rewarding classics, but to physically sift through it. To do something slower than reading. To do something only possible through technology.
You Need to Hear This Extremely Rare Recording by Rex Sorgatz:
“Rare” is such an quizzical descriptor, a blatant contradiction of the very nature of digital culture. Rarity describes a state of scarcity, and as we enter a proto-post-scarcity economy, digital stuff defies such shortages. Things are no longer rare; they are either popular or unpopular.
Rarity itself has become very rare.
No more guilty pleasures by Austin Kleon:
Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too.
How classical led me to love live performance by Jonny Greenwood:
I love the impermanence of the music live: it's played in the room – which is itself infinitely variable from one concert to another – and then it's gone, soaked into the walls. Unlike recordings, it isn't identical to the previous performance or the next one. It can go slightly (or badly) wrong at any time. And all that is shared equally by everyone in the room.
Is there an unusual list you keep?