Mark and I are fortunate to share a lot of interests, one of which is opera. We have seen lots of opera and operetta performances over the years. But among those that stand out in my memory is The Mikado, which we saw at Houston Grand Opera many years ago. The fact that we were seeing Gilbert and Sullivan’s clever composition would have been great in and of itself, but we had the added pleasure of watching Eric Idle of Monte Python fame play the role of Koko and sing his version of “I’ve Got a Little List.”
A little G&S background may be useful here. Koko, who was scheduled to be executed for flirting, finds himself instead to be appointed as Lord High Executioner. He’s ordered to execute someone – pretty much anyone – by the end of the month or face dire consequences. Lacking an obvious candidate besides himself, Koko sings a famous and much-parodied number with a list of people he would consider executing. The original list includes people who interrupt quiet conversations, play the banjo, or laugh in an irritating way. Tradition allows Kokos to substitute more contemporary concerns for the ones the original Koko articulated. So, in due time, tabloid editors, subprime lenders, elderly aunts who insist on being kissed, and Bill O’Reilly’s dermatologist have made the list.
I honestly don’t remember what was on Idle’s list the night we saw him perform, but the song has stuck with me. That’s probably because I’m a list person. My mother instilled that in me; she always had lots of lists going. The grocery list, for example, lived for as long as I can recall on top of a half-wall between the kitchen and breakfast nook in our house. My favorite of her lists was the one of Thanksgiving preparations I found when my sister and I were cleaning out my parents’ house after they’d both died. Item 1 was “Shampoo Kathy.” I guess she was more interested in making lists than updating them. Fair enough!
My most recent list springs from my need to find some control and order in the unstructured, uncharted territory of COVID-19. Many of my Facebook friends are noticing how different life feels without the routines of school, job, church, volunteer work, meetings, and the like. I feel it, too. And So here’s my response, i.e., my daily list:
1. Do a devotional reading
2. Exercise for 30 minutes
3. Do something creative (The pot you see below is full of improvised bean soup – that’s today!)
4. Have social media time (But not too much)
5. Write an encouraging Facebook post (This is today’s)
6. Practice Spanish on Rosetta Stone
7. Make donations (Check out animalrescuesite and freerice)
8. Pray, meditate, or do both
9. Listen to music or sing
10. Read, play games, put together jigsaw puzzles, or do some combination of these
11. Organize tomorrow
12. Be grateful
Some days I complete my list; some days I don’t. It’s not there to beat me up. It’s also not exclusive. For example, the apartment mulishly refuses to clean itself, and every time we eat a meal some gremlin puts dirty dishes in the sink. But my little list is a starter, something of a touchstone in an unusual time. So here’s the question: what’s on your list?