Our To-Do List Culture

This is Steamboat yesterday. I have ran bare-chested through the forest multiple days in a row. And do not see that changing anytime soon. SPRING. Finally.

This is Steamboat yesterday. I have ran bare-chested through the forest multiple days in a row. And do not see that changing anytime soon. SPRING. Finally.

Spring in Steamboat is flawless. Steamboat is pretty much always superb in its own way. But spring is perfect. Green chases the white from the valley floor to the surrounding mountain peaks. A hike (or run or bike ride or unicycle ride) to the top of one of those peaks reveals spring rushing winter back to the heavens. You can literally see life penetrating where snow spent months residing. Spring in Steamboat is flawless. Running on the single track surrounding Steamboat reveals the journey of intrepid flora further up the mountainside each day.

I recently went on a hike with a friend who I respect and admire the hell out of. We have both been through some similar circumstances and have benefitted listening to each other talk things out. Something he said made me think about the word “settling.” The (very) general topic of discussion was the seeming impossibility of settling for something when we have experienced something better. Very akin to Don Miller’s ideas on living better and better stories.

The definition of “settle” is to appoint, fix or resolve definitely or conclusively. Our culture spends a lot of time trying to fix and resolve. We love to fix and resolve. Fix and resolve relationships. Fix and resolve problems in our lives. Fix and resolve. We live in a “to-do list” culture. We love to get stuff done effectively and efficiently. We love to check stuff off the list.

It isn’t the actual fixing and resolving that concerns me. It is our motives behind fixing and resolving and what we do post-fixing and -resolving. We fix. We resolve. We settle. We stop growing. If we have experienced beauty, why would we settle for anything less? Obviously, there are many answers. And the answer is probably different for everyone. Mine are laziness, apathy, time and selfishness. Answers could also be fear. Or comfort. Or seeking peace. Or lack of trust.

But do you know what I think the most prevalent reason could be? We do not like to suffer. We do not like to engage in activities that might “cost” us something. We try to shield our friends and families from suffering. We try to shield ourselves from suffering. So we settle. In our efforts to stay safe, we get lame. We settle in our safe lives and the only thing we are passionate about is protecting our safe lives. And in that effort, we miss a lot. We stop doing things. And when we do, we do them in the “to-do list” fashion. We miss adventures. And as my good friend Mel mentions, it is all about the adventure. The conversation. The voyage.

I have done this for long amounts of time in my life. I have been comfortable. Too comfortable. And it has felt good. And I haven’t wanted it to end. So I do everything I can to maintain that comfort. But that is all I do. Just enough. Settle.

I read an interesting article recently about a dude named Max. Max is a recent Ivy League grad and wrote an email to an economist who writes for a blog. Max’s basic question and fear was not knowing what to do with his live because he lacked passion for anything. He wanted advice on how to be passionate. And what to do if he couldn’t be passionate about anything. The blogger was stumped. He invited Max to lunch with two other economists to try and talk it out. They formed questions for Max to help form a framework for his thoughts. The first question was: How much are you willing to suffer in the short run to get a better future? Perfect.

This is a question we should continually ask ourselves. We should also ask how we can get out of our to-do lists with relationships. Let’s stop focusing on checking stuff off and focus on the opportunities we have while checking things off.

“When we start losing our tolerance for vulnerability, uncertainty, for risk — we move away from the things we need and crave the most like joy and love and belonging, trust, empathy, creativity.” — Brené Brown

*Editors note: Brene Brown is a brilliant social work scholar. She has a wonderful TED Talk about why it is actually good for us to make mistakes. She actually has multiple TED Talks, but I love the one linked. I think another fear keeping us settled and safe is fear of messing up. I have definitely harbored that fear. Enjoy!

*Editors (second) note: My good friend, Mel, had a blog post this morning about another reason I think our culture is a “to-do list” culture.

*Editors (third) note: I really cannot believe you are still reading this. As I was getting rowdy on the Steamboat single track the other day, I started thinking about this platform of communication. One thing I do not like is a dominant voice in communicating. I thought about how much richer the communication of ideas is when it is discussed and shared. I want to make Ragamuffin Stories a platform that appreciates and offers diversity. Diversity of thoughts, opinions, ideas and the way those thoughts, opinions and ideas are expressed. Consequently, I am opening this platform to other ragamuffins. Let me know if you want to post something. Ragamuffins need multiple voices.

*Editors (fourth) note: Enjoy the weekend! Going to be a gorgeous one in ColoRADo. Try something new.