When faced with ultimate defeat, we find the strength to carry on by reminding ourselves of the people, places and activities that make life worth living. It’s a tried and true means to survive in literature and cinema.

What happens though when that  list can’t balance out the scales of the forces arrayed against an individual?

They either give up, double down or they join the church of human suckiness. Membership in the church allows them to continue living without having to exert the effort to double down, and reach far away places or perform exhausting activities. Even if these places and activities could make life worth living. Joining the church is easy. They just have to stay in the box.

Dying of Laziness.

A few off Red’s list (which is probably just Joe Carnahan’s list):

  • the Piazza del Campo in Siena
  • A bottle of wine, and then another
  • a night of jazz at The Vanguard

There is more on his list, but this is a representative sample. One place. One thing. One experience.

It’s worth mentioning this is not a bucket list. A bucket list is a list of items undone. It’s boursgie. The popularity of the concept suggests just how domesticated we’ve become.

This is a list of things done and loved.

A bucket list will not keep you alive. You don’t have to stretch your imagination. Your list should consist only of things you’ve already experienced. And it should be enough to keep you alive. 

Perhaps the only reason Red survived (post spoiler alert!) is because he had his list readily available and could call it up under great duress.

What Do I Want?

Not everyone joins the church out of laziness. Many join because they no longer know what makes them happy. They don’t want to give up, but they don’t know their list. 

The most basic definition of work though is “to put forth physical or mental effort.”

Note the results of said effort is not mentioned.

I exert physical and mental effort seven days a week. Anywhere from 2-12 hours each day. I rarely take an entire day off.

What is the product of all this effort? Does it help me achieve all the things I want? Maybe. Maybe not. The results are not in yet.

I know intellectually a certain type of work brings a certain type of result. And vice versa. Certain types of results are only achievable through a certain type of work. An example. Cleaning the house is work. The result of it is a clean house. It doesn’t get an article written or a video edited. Oh, you may think about that article/video while you vacuum, but you will still have to sit down in front of the computer at some point and bang it out.

The right work for the right result. The desired result from the necessary work.

If folks don’t know what work produces what result, then they’re liable to end up as a worshipper in the church of human suckiness.

Locked in a Glass Box.

Surrounded by dangers. Safe in the box. If  you come out, you may take a beating, or worse, be killed. If you don’t come out you survive, but can never have the things that make life worth living.

I’m working with two metaphors here: the list and living in a box. The list is what gives you the courage to keep going when faced with ultimate defeat. Coming out of the box, regardless of the danger, is what has to happen if you ever hope to experience any of the items on your list.

If you don’t know what’s on your list, maybe this idea of having such a list could be enough to get you out of the box.



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