Pressures of a To Do List junkie |

Pressures of a To Do List junkie

Barry Smith
Aspen CO, Colorado

I know, I know … I live in Aspen, right? So how can I claim to be on the road while I’m actually at home? How can you be “on tour” when you’re eating breakfast in your own kitchen?

The answer: To Do List.

I just got back from doing seven performances of American Squatter at the Orlando Fringe Festival, and I now have one week at home before I have to get in my van and drive to Montreal ” a 32 hour, 9 minute drive, according to Mapquest ” but I can probably make it in 32 hours and 4 minutes, because I’ve got a bit of a lead foot.

But before that happens, I have to tame my enormous To Do List.

I’m a To Do List junkie. I really don’t do anything unless it’s on the list. And, if I do actually accomplish something that’s not on the list, I write in on the list after the fact, then cross it off. It’s all about that sense of crossing-off satisfaction. I’ve been known to write “Write this sentence on To Do List, cross it off,” then cross it off. I realize that there are pharmaceuticals that correct this type of behavior, but then who would I be?

Generally, I can have a humble little To Do List that lasts me for a week or two, with items like “check mail” and “fix bike” smiling back at me, in no great hurry to be checked off. But this To Do List is serious. For example, “Memorize new show” REALLY needs to be done before the new show opens, otherwise I might as well add “Kill self” to the list, though that would be a hard one to check off.

That’s why I get to claim to be “On Tour,” because I’m not living a normal life at home at the moment. I’m focused, efficient and driven, and something about it feels significant.

Back when I used to work as an AV Guy, I used to have some very early mornings ” out of bed by 5:00, out the door by 5:30, on the job and ready to go by 6…00. By the time 6:30 rolled around, I was wide awake, alert, excited for my day. Inspired, even. And I’d always think, man, when I have a day off, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna get up at 5, sit at my desk and write, draw, create, finish some project I’ve been thinking about. I’m going to creatively create the creative life I’ve always wanted to create! Yes!

The day off would come, five a.m. would tip-toe past, along with its cousins 6, 7, 8 and 9 a.m. I’d get up at 10:45, shuffle around the house, maybe eat a banana, then be back in bed taking a nap by noon.

And so it went for years. I’d sit at the day job dreaming of what I could do with more free time, then the free time would find me staring at a three-item To Do List for weeks on end. Granted, one of the items on the list was “Stare at To Do List,” so in a way I was making some progress.

But now, years later, I’ve done that thing that people tell you to NOT do ” I’ve quit my day job. My job is now to be On Tour, even while at home, and my To Do List is my new boss. And yes, I actually did get up at 5:00 a.m. a few times last week and start working on it. So, after years and years, I’ve actually made some progress! This is great news! I can now check “Make some progress” off the list!

I can also check “Write To Do List column” off the list.

And, after that, I get to check “Check ‘Write To Do List column’ off the list” off the list.

Next time: Barry goes to Canada; checks “Go to Canada” off list …