I have never been big on making lists or even setting goals. I have the philosophy that I should live each day the best way I can, and everything will take care of itself. Other than short term “to do” lists, I just accomplished tasks as they came along. The essential things got done, and unimportant, non-urgent things were pushed to the side. This has actually worked fairly well for me, except that sometimes the non-urgent things that get pushed to the side ARE important. As I have allowed each task to “take care of itself” I have missed out on making some things (like fun times with my family) the priority that they deserve to be.
This all changed when I found out I was losing my vision. Suddenly, it began to seem important to prioritize, to do the things that were important to me and let tasks that do not bring joy be the ones that get pushed to the side. I was not sure how to start prioritizing. Then, I read a simple blog post by a woman who had made a list of things she wanted to accomplish before her next birthday. Nice idea, I thought. I wanted to try it. So, last April, I made a List of 50 Things I wanted to do before my next (50th) birthday. I put some things on the list that I had never done. I put on some things that I had happy memories of doing long ago. I put on some fun things and some chores that had been pushed aside for too long. I thought about what I wanted to see before my eyesight deteriorated farther. I thought about what I wanted to taste and smell and touch and hear. I thought about who I wanted to spend time with. I worked really hard on my list. It definitely was not a “bucket list” of everything I want to do before I die. It was more an exercise to learn to prioritize, to learn to set goals, to learn to make a list.
Since April, I have worked on checking items off my list. I have learned to work toward a goal, instead of letting everything just run its course. I have learned to make the things and people I care about a priority over cleaning and going to meetings. I have enjoyed the simple pleasure of petting a pony, of digging in the dirt to plant sweet-smelling herbs, of picking blueberries. I have overcome my fears and rebuilt relationships. Little things and big things have been crossed off the list.
As I have worked on accomplishing the items on my list, I’ve noticed a change in myself. I am beginning to allow myself to be more spontaneous about adding fun events to our family calendar. I feel enlivened by the list, and see the benefit of setting goals and working toward them. Making my list helped me to see that my over-reaching goals are putting relationships with the people I love first and making every effort to find grace and beauty in the world. With these goals in mind, I find myself making different choices than I did before beginning this project. This list and lessons it has taught me and the joy coming from working on it are all blessings that have been given to me on my journey to low vision.