The 5 Best Things About Lists

5) You Can Start At The End

Starting at the end is an unusual pleasure. You don’t get to do this in everyday life and still have it be something fun. In real life, the only things you ever start at the end are lines. Everything else begins at the beginning, and Lord knows how tiresome that can be. Lists are contrary to nature and defy those pesky laws. How nice it would be to fly to Hawaii and begin by being there already! With lists you can do that. In other words, thanks to item number five, the list is already over and you can move on to the juicier stuff right now.

4) You Can Change The World

It’s true. This silly world is way too complicated. For a newby it’s terribly hard to understand. For example, people speak the same language as those who raised them, and generally believe the same religion as those who raised them too, but you never hear about anyone “converting” to Dutch or Finnish, nor do you hear of people who are bi-theologic, worshipping both Zeus and Jesus in equal measure. With a list you can change all that. Merely by including an idea in a list, you have given it stature and a point of reference. Hashtags can also do this but those require a shared hallucinatory reality. A list needs only words and numbers (and even those can be overcome with bullet points).

3) You Can Bring Order Out of Chaos

Sometimes changing the world is not enough. You have to simplify it too. The list by itself introduces the very concept of order. It has a beginning and and end, and we have already seen that it can begin with the end, which implies, does it not, that it can also end with a beginning. Somewhere in the middle of the list lies the very concept of “the middle”. Using a list you can circumnavigate the planet without even growing up seeing stars in the night sky that used to be used for that purpose. Complexity is messy and it’s easier to get things wrong when there are a lot of them. Boil it all down to a list, and presto-change-o, it is all boiled down. Serve immediately with a garnish of fresh basil.

2) You Can Bring Chaos Into Order

Just when you think you know what’s coming next – BAM – life throws a curveball. Maybe it runs you over with a Mack truck. Maybe it sends you a late payment notice from the electrical company. Maybe your wife runs off with somebody else’s wife. Maybe there’s a fourth item blatantly violating the literary and comic law of three. There could even be a fifth, which would not be surprising if it were to occur in a list of exactly that length. In any case, here you are, ready for the number one to appear, and instead you get a number two right out of left field. You can let it go. This isn’t baseball and the run won’t count. Number one is sure to arrive – after all, this is a list and you’re almost there.

1) You Can Have a Happy Ending

Lists always save the best for last, and if they don’t, they’re a crappy list. If the last were not always the best, then who would see things through, who would stay the course, who would bother to stick around at all? But just as the beginning of the list (when it begins at the end) violates a law of nature, so too does the end (when it ends with the beginning) because we all know how life really ends, and it typically isn’t very happy-making. This is why fiction is better, TV is better, movies are better. All of those art forms have it over music, which ends either sadly (if you enjoyed it) or badly (if it gets stuck in your head and you hated it), or painting, which never ever ever ends but just hangs there on the wall for years and years after you are sick of looking at it. This is why the best of lists end with a wedding. Do you agree? I do.

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