Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Priorities: A Scale

Originally posted on February 12, 2011

A friend asked about my priorities in life. After some pondering, this was my response, in the form of a mini-essay, after some pondering. (Such questions are truly food for thought!)

Well, I have a bucket list, things I want to do before I kick the bucket. Really, there are fuzzy boundaries. But still, consider a thousand things to do, ranked on a scale of  preferences, from 1 – 1000, from yuk to oh boy: It seemed to my my preferences would fall on a bell-shaped curve. Those at the bottom, from 1-150, I’d pay good money not to do them! 150-300, I would try to avoid them. Items at 300 – 600—most activities— I’m sort of neutral. If dragged along, I’d smile weakly, but basically I’d be indifferent. Some of these, I think, are more duty than enjoyment.

For those on the “upper” side, from 600-1000, let’s say that I might like to do these activities, but realistically, or in terms of affording the time, money, or overall investment of energy, realistically I can’t fit them all in. Let’s see, 600 – 700, these might be fun but they’re far from high priorities. I would say truthfully, if asked, yeah, that sounds nice, or like fun; but I know I’d be unlikely to participate.

At the next rank, 700-800, there’s higher line-ride ratio. That’s the ratio of how long you need to wait in line at, say, a Disneyland ride for how much fun the ride is. Depends on how tired you are, how cold or hot it is, how many kids around or, worse, if you have to carry the kid. The ratio goes way up if you need to go to the bathroom. Another way to say this is Price / payoff. At 800-900, lower ratio, more fun, less stress; more desirable.

The truth is as we get into the final 900 – 1000, my higher priorities, I have to shift into higher gear, to exert more discrimination, because this is getting serious. I notice, for example, that some of these 600 – 940 scoring items are, for me, distractions. They seem attractive, but pursuing them would distract me from the top 60 things I want to do. Some distractions involve a necessary straw to wheat (or bulls**t to meat) ratio, as in watching television. Number of dumb or lame or annoying elements, including time spent on commercials, for meaty stuff that I could say, "gee, I’m glad I didn’t miss that." I remember that for me some skits on Saturday Night Live used to be very delightful, a new form of parody, comic strip. Now they’re on the edge of lame, just don’t have the snap and fun. Some of this might be them, some might be that the novelty has worn off.

Of late I’ve become aware, though, that I need to trim the top sixty to maybe a top thirty and forego the others (sigh). Hey, life is getting shorter and the desire to live my life—not the life promised by my fantasies—which is 100 times greater than reality permits—requires some focusing, maturity, choice. I’m reminded of the lyrics  in Joni Mitchell’s 1968 song, “Both Sides Now,” “Something’s lost and something’s gained from living every day.”

In another blog I may list my 30 or so priorities, perhaps under autobiography, but these, too, are in flux as the my state of health, the status of close others, and other circumstances change. The point is that in the past I would get caught up swimming among the mid-range, from 200 (because I thought I “should” or “had to” through 700 (because it seemed like a good idea at the time). As Frank Sinatra sang in his trademark song, “My Way” (actual lyrics by Paul Anka), “…regrets, I have a few, but then again, too few to mention.” My hope is that each person may be aware of this spectrum, construct a sort of list of priorities, recognizing the different sub-categories, and that this kind of scale can help people live and choose with more consciousness.

One Response to “Priorities: A Scale”

  • John Swardstrom says:

    I agree that one should always consider the future. But, how can one be sure that their bucket list is right?

    It seems to me that many, if not most people, myself included, have often had wrong items too close to the top of the list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *