I like making lists. Catching the thoughts whizzing around my head and pinning them down on paper. Once trapped in ink, their days are numbered. I cannot bear to see a task written down without crossing it off.
Writing lists creates the illusion that I have control. Control over the chaos that is life with three small children, and an aversion to housework. The lists impose a modicum of order on an otherwise unordered situation.
Of course I have a trip list, a very long one. With less than three months to go, the tasks are starting to crash into one another. I can’t do one thing, without doing something else first. If I don’t cross things off every day, I panic that I’ll never get it all done. The lists within lists are filling my waking hours and becoming unwelcome visitors in my dreams.
Every day at home I am surrounded by the evidence of tasks undone. Uncleared cupboards, broken lights, pictures that need taking off walls. Our house is in the process of being decorated, creating a chaos of it’s own. I have been wondering whether the self imposed tasks are more than the holiday’s worth.
This week we are not at home, we are at the seaside. We are staying in a lovely, clean, ordered house. We have light and space and views. We have dug in the sand, poked anenomes, paddled, collected shells, eaten ice cream, looked at the horizon. Until I did these things, I had not realised I had been wearing my lists like a heavy cloak. They’ve been literally weighing me down, making my shoulders ache.
This weekend I’ve had a glimpse of why it’s worth it. After just one weekend, I feel lighter, calmer, happier. A bit of house clearance is a small price to pay for nine months away. There’s nothing quite like looking at the horizon.