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The OCDs of our lives

December 4, 2012

Zihua, Mexico, 2009

I think all humans have some sort of obsessive-compulsive component that is just part of our DNA. Having an OCD is not a unique trait; what is unique is the way we choose to work through our disorder. Maybe you are one of those that can control it so that for the most part, you are of the low maintenance category in public. Maybe you aren’t that good at doing that, and instead, end up fluctuating between being low maintenance and high maintenance. You could be one of those obsessive-compulsive athletes that doesn’t know when to stop. There is a spectrum of coping skills that we try to figure out so that our OCD tendencies do not consume our lives, nor that of others. Some of us epically fail at that and I usually label those folks as “low dosage” and yes, I have friends that I would say are of the low-dosage variety, meaning I love them, but I prefer shorter spurts of time with them. I’d feel like a terrible person for saying that if I hadn’t earned that category from someone out there-at least I can admit it. As Henry Rollins always screams, “Just be honest dammit!”

Then there are those that spend their lives figuring out how to deal with others’ OCDs. When you speak with married couples, the successful ones have figured out how to coexist with two different sets of disorders. When you speak with educators, they have strategies for how to handle many in the same room. In the end, we all have at least one area where we go just a bit overboard, but it’s what we do with it that counts.

That answer for me is lists. I create lists and I’m not just talking about your typical grocery list, which I do have a phone app for by the way; I’m talking about lists of favorites, lists on reflections, wine label lists, daily to do lists, travel lists. It’s my private fixation, now gone public. Not only do I enjoy creating lists, and successfully completing them, I enjoy talking to others about what would be on their lists, which always generates interesting conversations. I also feel that it is truly a challenge for people to have to narrow down only to see them light up when talking about one of their favorite things. Pet peeves, top ten travel destinations, favorite foods, favorite books, must haves, your goals achieved, quotes.

For me, it is about the weird satisfaction and some sort of sick inner sense of validation that needs to occur and since I don’t want to seek that too often from others, I’m relying on my lists. Really? Yeah. Despite revealing this particularly embarrassing aspect of myself, it doesn’t make me want to know every aspect of my day, plan every aspect of my travel destinations, script out every word I would need to say to someone, and so forth. I do like leaving a lot of things up for mystery, exploration, and spontaneity, but my lists serve to calm my brain, celebrate my loves, and revel in my accomplishments, even the trivial ones. It’s a sick, sick obsession.

I’ll begin with authors. Speaking of sick, I’m currently under the weather, and sitting on my couch and I know that I’m going to probably spend much of this day reading so why not begin with that? Lately, this list has been on my mind because I’ve been running across people referencing or wanting to talk about books and it inspired me to go back to this list for whatever reason. The worse part about my favorite authors list is that there are only five women on it! What!? Clearly, I need to find better lady writers out there because I have read a lot of stuff written by women, but those just aren’t making the fav list. I also have several that I still need to read more of such as Ayn Rand.

In no particular order:

John Irving /Leonard Cohen poetry/Ursula Hegi /Paulo Coelho/Alice Walker/Khaled Hosseini

John Fowles/Flannery O’Connor/John Steinbeck/Maya Angelou/Buddha-Dhammapada/Dalai Lama

Barbara Kingslover/Beowulf, author unknown/Virgil/William Golding /Franz Kafka /Albert Camus

George Orwell/Joseph Heller/Truman Capote/William Faulkner /Jack Kerouac/Allen Ginsberg/Elie Wiesel

Stephen King/Ken Kesey /Rilke Poetry/Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance/Seth Kantner

Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States/Azar Nafisi/N. Scott Momaday

Of course, this list will always be a work in progress. Some of these have made it just because of one book, but that is all about timing and location. Sometimes it is when you read a book or where you are while reading it that matters more than the actual book itself because you needed that particular message or you were in a better state of mind to absorb it. There are way too many authors out in the world, but I’ll continue to chip away, and find those that are able to inspire me with their written word, which I find to be an amazing talent. A rare and wonderful beauty.

I encourage you to check out someone on my list that maybe you haven’t explored yet, but abandon them if they don’t speak to you because your reading time is precious! Which authors would be on your list?

Thanks for reading, sharing, commenting, liking, and reflecting!

From → Self

2 Comments
  1. Serial lister right here but totally unashamed. I have read 24 either authors or works you mentioned. Seth Kantners “Ordinary Wolves” at the top of my fiction list in the last several years and a work I love to gift to others. I am reading “The Art of Choosing” currently and it gives some really interesting insight into humanity far beyond decision making. Have fun!

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