I’m at the supermarket standing still and slack jawed in aisle 8. I’m staring at the shopping list that I have on a small clipboard clutched in my right hand. I started comprising this very list on Thursday night in preparation for the ritual Saturday morning shopping trip.
Thursday evening while in front of the TV, I’ll scan the weekly flyer for items to add to this list. If there were viable, applicable coupons they were paper clipped to the list. Each day is assigned a dinner, except Friday. No need to write in pizza. Some days, Saturday and Sunday the dinners would be drawn from a magazine recipe or cookbook. I add ingredients for those days to the lengthening list. Or, these days, take a photo of the recipe.
At one time, not so long ago, I was feeding four young adults from items on this detailed and carefully thought out grocery list. I took the responsibility of feeding them all good dinners very seriously. The list reflected that. The fact that money was tight was baked into the choices on the list.
In those years, I would hear, starting about Tuesday, “Dad, can you get pop tarts, Kleenex , pretzels, eggs etc.” The amount of possibilities was more a problem of physics than pencil and paper. I replied, “I’ll put it on the list”. Like any manuscript, the Kroger list wwas better after some editing.
Even today, with only my mouth to feed, I prepare a shorter version of the list. I still plan dinner for every day of the week, beginning the list Thursday night and hold the list sacred to my weekly life, my world view.
With all that said, one would think that I would take the time and intention to make every item written on the list easily read and legible. Then why the hell was I standing in the supermarket aisle 8 last Saturday morning looking for chicken fried pancakes?
I swear that is what I had written. It wasn’t. It couldn’t be. But that is what I wrote didn’t I? I wanted to go back in time and blame the kids. “Dad, could you put chicken fried pancakes on the list?” Sure, right next to vine ripened sponges.
But that excuse was not valid anymore. It was me. This was not the first time I had been unable to read something I had written on the sacred list. I have a long history of doing it. Why? It makes no sense to be in such a hurry to scribble something down when there was no time pressing, no need to hurry. Especially when you would need to, have to, must be able to read it later.
It is just amazing what we tell ourselves. Somewhere along the line, I must had told myself I needed to get something down on the list quickly. Or that I’ll know what it means later. I could forgive myself if I needed chicken fried pancakes when the list had items for 5 people. But this was a short list, made only for and by me.
To add to my shame I experienced in aisle 8, I have recently set an intention to write more legibly. I have a few bad habits I try to work on. Once recognized, I note them in my journal, set an intention to correct them and note my progress, if any.
This month’s goals are to write legibly, don’t overexplain yourself, and don’t look for things you’ve misplaced around the house. These are all easy ways to observe my mind in action. This post, however, is about the bad habits formed by trying to do something quickly and without intention, especially as I write . I make the same typos over and over, and over again. hte, jsut, and flet are some I almost always type too quickly. There are more. Whether it the Kroger list or a journal entry or a novel, the time spent recovering from trying to make a short cut while writing ends up, almost always, not being worth it.
I will never be able to pinpoint the time I decided it was beneficial to write a word or two so quickly that I would never be able to read it later. Of course, that is not what I was thinking at the time. I was thinking that I was in fact, saving some time. But the time passed anyway.
I have learned the hard way over the years that all thoughts are equal. One thought is not bigger than the other. The consequences that result from one thought can range from nearly meaningless to disastrous.
It was not a disaster to be temporarily blocking aisle 8 on Saturday morning. I stood there and for a fleeting moment actually hoped, like a child who desperately wanted to believe in Santa, that I would find a box chicken fried pancake mix and vindicate myself. Not to be.
I will keep trying to work on the handwriting as well as my other bad habits. Everything takes work. So, I am about ready to head to the store now after finishing this draft. At the very least, I will check the list to see that I can read every item before I leave.
Last thing. As I revised this post, I become curious about chicken fried pancakes. Found this if you are too.