Do you ever have days when everything feels like too much effort; when the outrageous unfairness of all the stuff you have to do weighs so heavily that you can feel yourself grinding to a physical halt?
Standing in a café this morning, I contemplated the free magazine which had just been stuffed into my hand and for which I was now responsible, the change from my breakfast which needed to be replaced in my already-overstuffed purse; the chaotic interior of the bag from which I would shortly need to retrieve the keys to the office – and I thought O God, I can’t be bothered with ANY OF IT.
There’s no quick fix for feeling like this. Winning a million pounds and going to live on a desert island (my usual cure for everything) wouldn’t fix it, because you’d still have to decide what to wear and when to eat. But one thing that works a bit, because really for a psychological problem what you want is a psychological solution, is thinking about all the things you don’t have to do. Yes, you might tell yourself, I have to reshuffle my belongings and climb a flight of stairs in the next five minutes, but at least it’s warm and sunny and I don’t have to hang up my coat or find somewhere to put a wet umbrella. And you’d cheer up a bit.
On a larger scale, this works even better. Thinking about stuff you don’t have to do is a liberating and joyous experience. You’ve heard of the “bucket list” that people make of things they want to do before they die.You need to be an energetic sort of a person to make and act on a bucket list. For those of us of a more languid disposition, I propose an alternative: a list of things we are happy to go to the grave without ever having done. The “fuck it” list, if you like.
The beautiful advantage that the “fuck it” list has over the bucket list is that once you’ve made it, you’re done. You’re better than done – you’ve reduced the number of things you need to think about ever again. If life is overwhelming you, make a “fuck it” list today! Here’s mine:
I will never go mountain climbing. I don’t mean the kind where you wear boots and walk up and down hills – I’m happy to do that. I mean the kind where you have to stick spikes into rock and get stuck on ledges and carry oxygen. I like nature and I like views, but there are ways of appreciating both which don’t involve vast amounts of equipment and a significant risk of injury. I am sure it’s wonderful, I am happy for the people who love to do it; I don’t need to join them.
I will never watch Gone With The Wind. It’s too long.
I will never run a marathon. I like running, but not at the expense of doing anything else. Preparing for those things takes months, which could be better spent cooking and watching TV and lying in bed looking at the wall.
I will never run a company. Even more than I am not built for running 26 miles without a meal in the middle, I am not built for 16-hour days or having the power to fire people.
I will never read all of Dickens. I have read Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations and half of David Copperfield. I liked them, but not enough to devote the necessary time to reading the others – or even the second half of David Copperfield. There are a million writers out there whom I’ve never read at all: Boz has had his fair share of me.
Counterintuitively, the “fuck it” list is less restrictive than the bucket list. If you are planning the holiday of a lifetime and you have Guatemala on your bucket list, you will feel obliged to at least consider going to Guatemala, even though you really want to go to Las Vegas. The “fuck it” list will let you go to Las Vegas unencumbered by doubt, guilt or other unproductive emotions. Here’s another reason the “fuck it” list is better: removing something from your bucket list because you can’t do it equals failure. Removing something from your “fuck it” list because, as it turns out, you ended up going mountain climbing and it was the most fun you’ve ever had, is a triumph.
With a “fuck it” list, you can’t lose, and you get to stay in bed all day and still be achieving every one of your stated aims. I think I must be a genius.