At year’s end, it is tempting to write a retrospective, a list of things done, a catalogue of accomplishments (or at the very least, some interesting statistics.)
Instead, I am going to tell you about what I didn’t do. Or in a few instances, stopped doing. Basically, this is my 2023 quit list
I stopped going to the local book club meetings.
I took a 6-month hiatus from guitar lessons.
I resigned from a non-profit board.
Over the summer, I signed up for an adult kickball league and did not play a single game.
I got off dating apps.
I quit wearing makeup for the most part.
I didn’t do any online teaching, or publish any articles.
I stepped down as the organizer for a Meetup group I’d led for a year and a half.
I could go on. There’s the biography of Hedy Lamarr, begun in January, that has been sitting on my bedside table, neglected. The brown bananas in my freezer, waiting for either ambition or boredom to spur me to transform them into banana bread. The artist’s statement I sketched out this spring and haven’t returned to since.
My reasons for quitting were varied. Sometimes it was simple as limited time. In other cases, it was a matter of reconsidering my priorities, of thinking about what value a particular activity brought to my life. Occasionally I didn’t have a choice; the online program I taught for was discontinued, much to my disappointment.
Even now, as I sit next to my kitchen filled with packages of candied pecans and bags of snickerdoodles and cranberry scones—the outputs of a frenzied weekend of holiday baking—I am glancing sideways at my to-do list and calculating how much remains on it. How little I checked off.
Then I think of how I actually spent my day. Waking to the sound of rain, then snuggling back under the blankets for just a minute longer. Finally getting dressed to venture out for coffee, Rosie in tow. Having a lovely brunch with friends and sharing good food and laughter. Peter’s company. A long afternoon nap.
Those were wonderful things. I would argue those were the most important things I did today. None of them were not on my list.
Life is not made up of lists. Or if it is, that misses the point. After four plus decades on the planet, I am starting to realize this. Not that I’ll ever abandon lists completely; part of me will always thrill to an item checked off, a task accomplished. But they will not be—can not be—how I measure my life.
It’s raining again. The couch calls. I’ll let myself answer.