The List Grows Shorter by Lois Hewitt

photo of planner and writing materials

Photo by Bich Tran on

For most people, this time of the year is full of baking cookies and treats, shopping and wrapping presents and attending holiday parties.  For me, this time of year is my favorite because I get to have a new calendar and contact book.  Yes, I still use a paper calendar and contact list.  I love the anticipation of transferring all my information and contacts into to new calendar.  It is an amazing time for me.

I do not despise electronics, but, for me, there is nothing like the feel of a good writing pen in my hand as I write information down onto paper.  I love the feel of paper and the smell of it too.  Half the fun is shopping for just the right calendar that will fit all my needs throughout the coming year.  When I finally find the right one, I wait for just the right moment to start transferring the information over.  There is a whole process involved.  OCD?  Yes, but it has worked for me for over 30 years.

I was the person in the 1980’s with the three inch Franklin Planner full of dates, information, contacts and anything that would fit in it.  I carried that planner with me for years and years.  My purses had to accommodate the planner.  I never went anywhere without it.  I could literally run my entire life from any location on the planet because that planner contained all my information.  Today, I do not have the need for such a complicated system.  I have one date book that has contact pages included.  I can still track bills, errands and due dates from a much smaller, compact unit.

Today was the day I was finally going to open my new planner and start moving information over.  I have been waiting for just the right time and today just felt right.  So I opened my new calendar and start writing down contacts in the back of it.  The first two were people I had not seen or heard from for many years.  The next three were people that had passed away.  And as I continued down the list, more and more of my contacts were no longer relevant. My chest grew slightly tight.

It made me think back to the Franklin Planner days when my contact section was one of the fullest sections.  I had business contacts for the work I was doing at the time, customer contacts for the business I was running and there were many family members who have long since passed.  I had lists of “friends” that required days and days of signing Christmas cards to, but sadly heard back from only a few.

Back in the day (my 20s), I thought the more contacts I had, the more friends I had.  Today I realized that every year since then my list has grown smaller and smaller.  Today, I barely fill up two pages.  I used to think everyone I met was my friend, somehow it fed some sort of ego need inside of me: some fake self-esteem.  I would send birthday cards, holiday cards, thinking of you cards to so many of these people with the intent of staying in contact and then I just never heard back from them.  The idea of someone not liking me was not even a thought I had when I was much younger.  Now I realize there were many years that I was unlikeable and very needy.  That scares people away.

Over the years, as my friend and contact list grew less and less, I never really thought about it consciously.  But today as I crossed out people from my old calendar, I realized that the people from before who never really gave me the time of day, were not my friends.  That stings a bit.  I do have a few handful of good friends who have stood the test of time, but I am speaking of the people who were nice to my face, but not so nice when I turned my back.  I cringe at how unaware I was.  In retrospect, I can see who was simply putting up with me and who really cared.

After mulling it over for most of the morning, I returned to that contact list in my new calendar and I smiled at the names that were in it.  Those names were the ones that mattered, not the others.  The people I have in my life now are the ones who are making my life full and rich.  I no longer need my ego stroked in order to have some sort of self-worth.  Man, that is liberating.

No more walking around on eggshells, no more making sure everyone liked me.  Today if you like me, great: if not, that is ok too.  Not everyone is going to like me and visa versa.  I guess when I went around liking everyone, I was not being my most authentic self either.

Now my new calendar is ready to experience the upcoming year with me.  All the ups and all the downs.  I will write milestones and small achievements as well in it.  I will use it to keep in contact with the people who want to be in my life.  I do miss those I have lost, but that is simply a part of living too.

My paper calendar is so much more than just a date book.  I keeps me on target for goals, helps me to remember important information and creates a personal space for which I can be me.  I love my paper calendar, it has more feelings than an electronic version.  It is one of those true friends that has stood the test of time.  As of today, I am a little sad over the losses, but I still have gained so much in this life.  Realizing that the most important moments are necessarily the big ones puts life into a reasonable perspective.

Thank you to all my old and all my new friends alike.  You may not be in my contact book, but you are definitely in my heart.


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