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21 Mar

The Three Minute List

I have, like so many men and women of my generation, a life list. On it are things that – true to its name – I want to do over the course of my life. These things are, most of them, lofty things. Ambitious things. Things that take time and planning and resources and, in some case, the alignment of the fates in my favor. Things like climbing mountains and diving into oceans and making dreams come true. Things are, almost without exception, somewhat easier to access than getting three minutes of alone time, all to myself.

Seriously. If you don’t believe me, you don’t have small children. I’m not sure why it is, exactly, that getting to Africa or getting to swim with dolphins or getting one’s rear end up a rock face is easier than getting three minutes alone in the bathroom – maybe it’s that the latter just seems so futile that you don’t even make the effort – but there it is.

So I decided, I need to make a Three Minute List: a list of the things that I want to do if and when I get three minutes during which time I do not have to attend to children, attend to marriage, attend to job, attend to household, attend to community, attend to the planet, attend to basic maintenance of self, health and person – my own and that of everyone, human or animal, for whom I have some responsibility. It is, as I said, so very difficult to find three minutes that are free of those concerns. But that only makes them all the more worth fighting for, right? Hence the list. A list is an expression of goals. A list is something that you work at. A list can push you to make things happen.

So, my Three Minute List:

1.) Take a bubble bath, one that does not involve shaving of legs or washing of legs or scrubbing of person. One that only involves sitting. In hot water. And bubbles. Alone.
2.) Write a haiku. Fold it up and tuck it in my wallet, for retrieval when I need a reminder of the sanctity of three spare minutes.
3.) Paint my toenails some stupidly outrageous color that I will want no-one to see, not for the purposes of pedicure, but simply for the pure sensual joy of spreading cold varnish on toenails and seeing ridiculously bright, shiny colors reveal themselves under that little black brush.
5.) Sit quietly with my children and sniff their hair and just revel, really revel, for a few minutes, in the delicious smell of them.
6.) Meditate. By which I do not mean, sit quietly and try to clear my mind. I mean, sit quietly and indulge in a quick, intense, three minute fantasy about living in the world of Downton Abbey.
7.) Cuddle one of my cats, for three whole minutes.
8.) And then cuddle the other one.
9.) Lay down on a stretch of grass and stare up at the sky.
10.) Wipe down the counters, not because they need it, but because it can be really satisfying to just make things shiny. (I don’t like cleaning. But I do like wiping and polishing. Those commercials where you see a paper towel or a wipe ‘cut through grease!’ and there’s that shiny strip of cleanness? I LOVE those. I like running a wipe over a dirty window for exactly that reason. Of course, I then have to let my husband finish it off once I get bored, but still. LOVE.)
11.) Brush my daughter’s hair, just for the pleasure of it. (This will never happen, by the way. She hates me brushing her hair. Which is why this list item is sort of a fantasy. I want her to sit happily and let me brush her lovely yellow hair until it is silken gold. FANTASY.)
12.) Stare out the window and just watch the world the world go by.
13.) Look at myself in the mirror and find all the things that are beautiful there.
14.) Practice my cartwheel.
15.) Look for four-leaf clover.
16.) Breathe.
17.) Add more things to this three-minute list.

My commitment to myself is to work at this list as assiduously as I work at my life list, to seize the minutes with the same determination and enthusiasm that I seize the day. I started with the list itself – which, don’t laugh: listing is dreaming, and dreaming is goal-setting, and the more such goals I set, the more such goals I reach.

And reach them I will.

(What would be at the top of your Three Minute List? There’s a whole conversation happening about what to do with three extra minutes over at the Facebook page. Join in!)

This post was sponsored by Clorox. You can stop the spread of germs with Clorox® disinfecting products, and enjoy the zen of wiping while you’re at it. (List item #9 is fully sincere and its inclusion had absolutely nothing to do with this sponsorship, seriously. I just really find my zen in wiping. Also in making soup – all that meditative stirring! – but that takes more than three minutes, so.)