I first read about The Magic List on Facebook several months ago. It was one of those “scroll by” articles that I just happened to click on. It was not a new article, nor was it new thinking. In fact, Martha Beck has explored the idea of The Magic List, which is not a list of all the things we want in the world– it’s is really a list of things that we deeply want for our lives. As she explains, “The power or powerlessness of your magic list depends on the level of awareness from which you write it.”
A few days later I was in the middle of packing up my house in Orange City, feeling the enormity of the life change we were about to take on. I was frustrated while packing my art supplies from our family studio– it was as difficult as packing books. There were so many things in that room that sparked memories of that place, and we were choosing to leave it. Feeling overwhelmed, I set down the boxes, dusted off my hands and grabbed a pen and a lined piece of paper. I felt the need to get something out of my system, so I wrote down about 30 things that I knew I wanted– deep down wanted.
There, in the midst of despair, was clarity. “I want a quiet little life, I want a tidy house, I want to deeply connect to my children, I want to continue to cultivate deep and lasting love with my husband.” I tucked it in the back of my journal and left it there. Then I promptly forgot about it. I felt like it had to be written, but once it was out of my body it released my angst and I could move on.
In the beginning of autumn I discovered that piece of lined paper in a box on the other side of the country, still tucked into the journal. Instead of fall leaves starting to turn on midwestern trees, we were drinking gallons of Gatorade after moving to negate heat stroke. The journal sat on a shelf for a few more months until I was looking for a quote. Then as I opened the journal, it fell to my feet– a secret love letter to myself. I had, in just a quarter of a year, accomplished everything on that list (ok, ok, so I didn’t learn how to bookbind, but all the other 29 items were accomplished). At first, my achievement seemed magical. As I read it, though, it occurred to me that these things were accomplished but not truly “DONE” to a point where they could be satisfyingly checked off the list. I’ve since come to the realization that most of them will never be checked off. The accomplishments are not in the grand final destination of finishing the list. They are found in the journey– on a road that I am thankfully, and greatfully on.
I don’t think that The Magic List was magic after all. I think that sometimes, when you ask the universe for clarity and you tell the Great Mystery the real and true desires of your heart, you receive it. And sometimes you find you’re on the right journey– and you’ve been on the right journey — all along.