Revel in the routine

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Revel in the routine


The author is the head of fol:in team at the JoongAng Ilbo.

A “bucket list” is a list of things you want to do before you die. Choi Ho-jin, 38, who is on leave from a big finance firm, is hosting a meeting of strangers to write a 100-item bucket list for this year.

Write 100 things you want to do this year. What happens then? Most people write 30 things with ease, and they are not so different from one person to another. Travel, reading, exercise and foreign languages are most frequent entries. But if the list goes over 50 items, they become very different. You cannot think of things you want easily. You’ve already written most of the things you want to do. Then, things become more specific and trivial.

“After 50 items, you have to make an effort and think of things you want to do. You have to think about what you like and what you want but are missing. You start writing about very ordinary things, like preparing a soup for your wife’s birthday or calling your parents every weekend. Rather than simply starting a YouTube channel, you become more specific and say you want to meet a YouTuber with 100,000 subscribers in person.”

The difference between people becomes evident after the list goes over 50 items. As the list gets longer, “ordinary yet specific things you want to do” are revealed rather than “what most others think we should do.” Choi decided to take leave from work after completing the 100-item bucket list. “I didn’t have anything I can do at work on the list. I discovered that I want to meet people and tell stories to others.”

Three weeks have passed since the start of the year. Most people made new pledges, and those who broke the pledge may feel uncomfortable. We are all different, but New Year’s resolutions are often similar. In a survey, 1,300 respondents said savings (21.9 percent), leaving or finding a new job (13.5 percent) and exercise (11 percent). Many of us spend January making a grand pledge and agonizing over failing to keep it.

“You need to know how to value the trivial repetition of routine life. We cannot live by continuing grand ceremonies or events. True life is in the repeated routine.” This is from the preface of a book I read in the new year. Write 100 things you want to do. And look at the last thing on the list. How about spending the year by fulfilling from the most trivial and insignificant wishes?

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 22, Page 28
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