I am an ardent list maker; and, I make no apologies for it. I once heard Martha Stewart comment that she never had to rely upon a list for anything, but that they were a good idea "for the rest of you." Okay, Martha, I'll accept that. Perhaps it is because I work in a profession that is driven by deadlines that must not be missed, or perhaps it is because I am an organized thinker (although not necessarily an organized person), that I make lists for everything: errands, groceries, what housework is to be accomplished on what day, bills I must pay, and the rest of life's small hurdles. Oddly, once written I may not refer to these lists; but, knowing that they are there is somehow comforting. Each a buoy lighting me through a dark channel, just in case I get confused and lose my way. I lose my way less often than I used to; but, the habit remains nonetheless.
Today is the last day of the year; it is a great day for list making: for looking back and looking ahead. Although I have prepared my To Be Read In 2009 book list, I will probably follow it only loosely. I'll use it as a map, of course, but I have always loved turning down a road because it looked interesting. Late last autumn I was returning to Georgia from Virginia, down the interstate. Virginia's mountains and hills were wearing all the bright colors of the season, and it was cold and windy. I saw an exit for Palmyra, VA. I had never heard of Palmyra; but, I suddenly wanted to go there. So, off I went. The road rose and fell in huge waves, and the leaves on the ground whooshed as I drove past, scattering behind me. Palmyra, I discovered, has a lovely old courthouse located on - inevitably - Courthouse Square. Next to it sits an old stone jail, now a museum. Across the square a few little stores were bunched together, along with one small law office. On a far corner stood a church, I think it was Episcopal. It was Sunday, and everything was quiet and closed, except for the church. A service was obviously being held, because singing drifted out into the circle where I stood. Then...it was time to go home. I think I'll take the same approach with my reading this year. The list will be my goal; however, I have found that the small side trips we take are often the most memorable.