Fish, fish, get your fresh fish. I swear everyone in western Massachusetts knows the lilting sounds of Bud Foster advertising his fresh fish. How he rolls and twirls the words for Foster's Supermarket. This store is such a delight. Big enough to have everything you could possibly want, small enough that much of the produce is local. I anticipate every visit as an adventure.
Do I want five pounds of organic local carrots--on special for $2.79? What about a basket of over-ripe bananas--only $.99? There is a manager's special of fresh haddock--trucks drive into the fish market in Boston two or three times a week getting the best fish available. Very tempting. Hmm. I need apple cider, mushrooms. Yukon gold potatoes on special. Those leeks look great. My DH is longing for a roast chicken. Not the best right now but that pork roast--can't beat the price. Sure looks great too--very fresh. I'll get some port wine. Raisins. Make some applesauce. I'll freeze the day old hamburger and use it later in the week.
Don't need milk. A couple of cartons of juice. Yoghurt from SideHill Farms--I drive by their cows grazing in the meadow on my way home. Absolutely delicious--tastes like yoghurt should. Some bread for sandwiches.
There is strategy as I walk the aisles every Tuesday. See what's on sale, pick up the essentials. Always a can of coffee. Replace the can of coconut milk I used for Thanksgiving. I don't even stop at the cookie aisle. Not what I buy. Strategy but no lists. I don't know what I'll cook until I finish shopping. Foster's is like that--at least for me. This is almost fun, an adventure, not a chore.
I put the food away, make lunch--oh that grilled cheese was good. Check my e-mail. Coincidentally, I get a response to my blogpost that lists can be hazardous to your art from Lisa Call when I return. Lists, lists, lists. She writes about lists for grocery shopping:
Yes – getting things done is what gets things done. But spending our energy trying to remember what needs to get done isn’t productive use of our brain. Writing things down reduces the energy required to remember that list and frees us up to think about other things.
She writes that I have not explained how making lists is dangerous to your art.
I will first use the example of grocery shopping at Foster's. Now occasionally if I am making something special I may jot down a few items. Chocolate and cream for Christmas dessert. Basil and walnuts to make pesto for my step children. But normally I don't. I know what is in the refrigerator. I know what we need--fruit, veggies, main courses. I just don't know what will look best at Foster's. Do I want to pass up the pork roast or the carrots. Nope. I will cook with these. If I had a list, I might not have even seen the pork roast and it sure was good last night.
In my last blogpost I wrote about my friend Mary. Now Mary left a successful job to become an artist. Mary goes up to her studio to work, begins tackling her todo list and by the time Mary must leave the studio she has done some items on her todo list but not made art. She is frustrated and feels like a failure. Now Lisa says the problem is that Mary was using the WRONG lists. OK--let's blame Mary even more for failing to become the artist she dreams of. Those lists are indeed being dangerous to Mary's art IMHO.
Lisa has referred me to the blog post of ZenHabits. Kill your todo list they advocate.
I’m here to suggest: kill your to-do list.
It sucks up your time, and drains your motivation. Those who have to-do lists usually manage them constantly, or if they don’t they fall into disuse and get dusty and become worthless, while the person who’s fallen behind in maintaining the list feels constantly guilty. For those who keep up with the lists, they spend a lot of time on the lists they could be spending … doing something important.
But Lisa says in an interchange with me, Zen Habits is a successful blog and I should take everything they say with a grain of salt. Probably. There are times when one needs plans, strategies and focus. Her implication is that they use lists to get things done. Maybe, maybe not. Lists may not be the only way.
Switch it around. If lists are frustrating you, try having a strategy instead. Know yourself. Maybe for you spending the first hour of your studio time making art gives you that feeling of accomplishment. Maybe you have too many UFO's around your studio--too many choices, too much feeling of incompletion (is that a word?). Do you have too much finished work in your studio--maybe you need to find a home for it? Circumvent yourself. There is no right answer and no wrong answer.
I don't have the answers for you. Lisa doesn't have the answers for you. Neither does ZenHabits. Learn from all of us and then find your own answers. Mary now rarely goes up to her studio because she feels so defeated. I find this painfully sad. Don't let this happen to you. After all, being an artist is hard work, and if you aren't having fun sometime during the process--if it just makes you feel badly about yourself then why are you doing it.
And yes the pork roast was delicious. Pork, garlic, onion, sweet potatoes, a few raisins and a dash of the port. Yummy. Today I may make an apple cobbler to go with it. Cream a bit of margarine with sugar, add an egg, a bit of milk, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Pour over some sliced apples and cook til done. I don't use a recipe here either. That's me and it works for me.
So what do you think? My father was a farmer. Farmers don't make lists-at least my dad didn't---they just milk the cows, plow the field, harvest the crops? I wonder if this is why I don't use lists. Any thoughts?