“Gee,” I thought, “these are nifty.”
What have I done? I make one. A scholar-friend says, “You've led such an interesting life.”
I look at it. I sense culture speaks if I name it list.
I’d like to feel it's nifty. Why? I’d like to think what I've done, seen, heard, and experienced, made a difference to me, or to someone. Why? My list objectifies my experiences. My list transforms them. They are no longer being they are items, money in an account, or merit badges on my Boy Scout sash. Item’s verb form, “itemizes,” objectifies. I’ve spoken some of my badges as boasts, something I’d speak to proclaim, as if the badge says who I am. Why did I boast? I hope I wasn’t a bore.
I do therefore I am. I am what I’ve done. Really? “I think therefore I am,” is progress in the development of the consciousness of the self. Descartes believed it evidence of existence, of being. I studied Descartes; I like him. I felt significant when I read him, worked to understand him, worked to speak about what I didn’t understand, and listened to philosophers talk about what they thought they knew they understood. I felt significant for a moment when I did my list items too. I felt affirmed when my scholar friend said, “You've led such an interesting life.”
Today, I feel my items are evidence of my being’s insignificance. Feeling so makes me sad. What have I left undone? I was reared in my birth family, and it’s extended culture, to think and behave that I’m significant, that I have power. Now, well, not so much.
Most items now are like dreams, frail and foggy, though real enough in the experience. It’s difficult to make a difference. I had to show up . . . again, and again, and again, and even then, well, this doesn’t feel like affirmation. “What I’ve done,” will have to be good enough. “What I’ve left undone,” well, that'll have to be good enough too.