Creating lists for survival in Spain makes your life limited

TO DO LIST: A planned day reduces your chance of adventure.

It was a bright crisp autumn day. Feeling a little slow I decided to take in a second large mug of tea to get my bearings for the day and formulate a plan of action.

Across the road from me was my neighbour putzing about in his garden pruning trees and watering.

Being of the friendly type I saluted him and asked what he was up to on this fine day. Back came the curt reply, “don’t talk to me, I have a lot on my mind and a lot to do.” As he was fully retired and rarely left the house I couldn’t even hazard a guess of what would be so colossally important, so, pushed the issue.


He stopped, looked at me as if I had lost my mind, laid down his water bucket and clippers, reached deep into his pocket and took out a scrap of paper about the size of a gum wrapper and began to read. “One,” he snarled, “mail letters at the post office. Two, pick up bread from the baker. Three, get gas and then home again.” I bit my lower lip as hard as I could to keep from laughing. Then, bit myself again while watching him refold the paper into the same previous creases and jam it back again into his jeans.

I had lived by then some five years in Spain and had never seen or witnessed a Spaniard make a list about anything, concerning any issue.

The act of ‘listing’ reduces the world to a confining and limited life. Drawing a box around your day then limits your circumstance free of adventure, change of circumstance, trajectory or fate. Was this small act the newcomer had poked a hole in the spontaneity of life (here).

He had unwittingly ruled out in participating in the giant chaotic scheme of things and would never get a glimpse of ‘Spanish civilization’ as it flows uphill, backwards or where ever.

The note taking was a serendipity inclusion unto Kafka’s list explaining modern man: “he fornicates, reads newspapers and smokes.” That man has since evolved into making lists too but it still had nothing to do with the heart beat of this

Iberian circumstance. No more than counting beers in the hope of remaining sober.

I too surround myself with a library of pens, note paper and large sheets for writing. But they are, as they should be, directional sign posts not limited objectives of completed tasks.



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