The other day I bought in a used bookstore an introductory text on cognitive science by Paul Thagard. Inside this book I found a list of 47 items titled ‘Life’s To Do List’. Admittedly, the juxtaposition of a list like this–written in an adolescent, loopy handwriting, partly in blue and partly in pink–with a book from MIT Press on cog sci is odd, if not plainly bizarre. Most of the items on the list are cliches: #1 Find true love; #5 Watch sunset on the beach; #27 Go on a carriage ride. The fact that #29 ‘VEGAS!’ follows #28 ‘Give bone marrow & save someone’ is humorous and endearing at the same time.
I say that the list is cliched, but it’s also unbearably hopeful and sincere. My impression is that it’s written by someone quite young or somewhat restricted in their activities. They have never slept under the stars (which is easily crossed off the list, I think) or picked wildflowers in a field or owned a pet or written a love letter. To find this list, at this moment in my life, in a book on cognitive science, has left an impression on me. I’m torn in many directions at once.