I've been fretting about this failure and a number of other uncompleted tasks* that have been languishing on my to-do list. But then I came across this quote from author Seanan McGuire:
I will never finish the list. The list is an endless road stretching off into the ever-moving future. But the list is a guide and a map and a benediction, and nothing makes me happier than knowing that it's always growing. I'll reach the end when I die.
Whoa. Yes. Reading this, I felt absolved. Not totally absolved, because there are things on my list that need doing. But the list is a guide, and a map. And it is endless. Having a list, and adding and subtracting and adding more to it, means that I'm living life. The list shows me what I've accomplished and where I'm going. If I look carefully, it tells me what's important and what's really not.
The quote is now pasted on inside cover of my day planner/notebook, a gentle reminder before I turn the page that the to-do list is a guide, not a contract. It is a map, with routes that I can choose to follow, or not. It is a benediction, and confirmation that there is a life ahead of me.
*This morning I completed a task that's been on my to-do list for 3 1/2 years. Philosophical musings aside, crossing this sucker off the list felt good.