The To-Do List Time Capsule

I recently found a personal time capsule. It wasn’t a typical time capsule created to be opened at a specific time in the future. This time capsule was more like Pompeii—unintentional preservation of a particular moment in time (though obviously not quite as catastrophic as a volcanic eruption).

I didn’t realize it was a time capsule at first. It was just a bag of random stuff that had been sitting in the corner since I moved into this house. It had been over a year since I moved, so I decided it was time to quit being a slacker and to do something about the bag.

The general guideline about this sort of thing is if you hadn’t needed anything in the bag for a year then you should just throw it out without even looking in it. But just throwing it away was too anxiety inducing.  There could be an old book of checks in there! Also, I thought my missing toll transponder might be in the bag. Not that I had a pressing need for a toll transponder. I purchased it in error while trying to pay missed tolls. But I didn’t want to just throw it away—I was pretty sure I still had $18.00 on it.  What if toll transponders become the next bitcoin? I could be throwing away a fortune!

With all those potential bad possibilities I couldn’t just throw the bag away, so I went through it. Of course, there were no books of checks or papers with confidential information in it. That made me a little grumbly, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time because I did find the toll transponder. Yay! I also found the time capsule item: a page of lists.

Most lists are boring and don’t say much about what was going on in your life at the time. Grocery lists generally vary only by season. To-do lists (or even Kick Ass Bingo) are pretty much the same week to week as well. The lists I found in the bag are not like that. Those lists are a time capsule from the last time I moved.  

The first section is titled, “Reasons why this will be ok.” The second section is “Reasons it’s not the worst house ever.”

Yikes. That hurt. I even said “Dang” out loud after reading it. It’s not that the lists themselves are that bad. It was remembering the “list behind the lists”—the reasons I had been trying to cheer myself up—that caused the stomachache:

  • I didn’t want to move. I was moving only because the terms of my divorce required it.
  • It had taken several months to find an affordable place to live.
  • I was convinced I’d made a horrible choice. I had spent many nights pacing and crying, asking myself “what have I done?”
  • Lengthy sub-list involving ex-husband, the main feature of which was his spying on me while I was moving (When I first heard about the spying, I taped some of our wedding pictures to the windows to give him and his girlfriend something extra to look at. What? He’s the only one that can be immature? Consider it an attempt at stress relief.)

Time capsules suck. Who needs them? The lists that were designed to cheer me up were having the opposite effect a year later. I set the paper aside and continued going through the bag.

I found another list. After the previous one, I wouldn’t blame you if you assumed the second list contained “double up on therapy appointments” or “leave town to open a shaved ice business in Key West.” Both would have been great ideas, but no. The second list is of writing goals such as “start a blog” and “enter a writing contest.” The final item is “quit pretending to be a writer.”

Wow. That list seems a bit harsh, too.

At first, I thought it was like any other random list—no specific time frame indicated, no time capsule-esque connotation.  But after thinking a minute, I realized that the second list is older—I started my blog before I moved.  No big deal until I also realized that though the list was older, I had accomplished most of the writing goals after I moved. Not only had I survived moving, but I had also upped my writing game! Moving hadn’t turned out to be the all-encompassing disaster I had been anticipating.

The only thing on the list that I hadn’t completed was “quit pretending to be a writer.” I can’t remember if I was saying “Quit pretending to be a writer because you will never be one” or “Quit pretending to be a writer and be one already.” I’m in the mood for perky, so let’s say it’s the latter. With that goal accomplished (I write, ergo, I’m a writer) I can cross off that last item—the list is finished. Cheers!

I’m still over time capsules, though.

**Many thanks to all the people who supported me during the “dreary list” times. I wouldn’t have made it through it all without you!

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