Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To-Do Lists Made Up for the Dead

To-Do Lists Of The DeadI was really looking forward to reading the book pictured here--
To-Do Lists of the Dead, by Jonathan Katz.  I don't remember how I learned about it, but it was either inaccurately described, or I somehow read between the lines something corresponding to what I wanted it to be.

For some crazy reason, I expected to find actual to-do lists of well-known, now deceased persons.  And I was fascinated by the idea of learning how history-making individuals have approached the confounding process of deciding what they should be doing.  Just think what items Albert Einstein might have scribbled on his agenda for any given day!  And Amelia Earhart!  How would she apportion her time, squeezing bill-paying and haircuts in between flying lessons?

Instead, alas, the lists in this slightly amusing compendium are made up by its humorist author.  The same man who brought us the animated sitcom Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist used his comedic talent to produce the following gems:

Buddha's To-Do List:
  1.  Become enlightened.
  2. Become one with everything or, at the most, possibly two.
  3. Find out if the crowds are followers or just people who can't get around me.
And, in what seems to be some kind of appended musing, 
We are what we think . . . All that we are arises with our thought.  To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance . . . you are what you eat . . . An insincere and evil friend is more to be fear than a wild beast (this is too easy) . . . . 
followed by
you don't know what you've got till it's gone . . . love means never having to say you're sorry . . .
Not exactly what I was looking for.

And neither is this faux list from Mother Teresa,
  1. Return calls to Pope.  (I need voice mail!)
  2. Perform a miracle.  (Soon.)
nor its postscript. 
Get tickets to see that show, O Calcutta.  A charming evening at the theater would be a welcome break from all the poverty that I deal with on a daily basis.
Here's what Katz dreamed up for Einstein,
  1. E=MC and then some.
  2. E=MC or something like that. . . .
  3. The love you take is equal to the love you make.
  4. BORING!
  5. I'm starved.
  6. Bring on the chicks!
  7. Try a large tube of Bryllcreem.
  8. Spend more time--some time--with the kids.
along with
Things equal to "E" are equal to themselves.  Everything is equal to itself.
And Amelia?  Katz renders her self-assignments thusly:
  1. Become first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
  2. Become first woman to fly across the Pacific.
  3. Double check Noonan's navigator credentials.  (Seems a bit sketchy, especially about the flying stuff.)
  4. Is the train so bad?  Look into it.
I'm still holding out for the real deal.  My researcher's brain imagines faded jottings on brittle scraps of paper, just waiting to be unearthed from as-yet-unplumbed archives.  And until someone conducts that quest, and writes that book, I guess I'll just stick to my own uncelebrated, but genuine lists.

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