Living with a Life List Takes Practice

By KM Huber

The act of living, breath by breath, is our practice, unique to each one of us and universal to all. Our practice is what we do with the life we have. In some form or another, this idea has always framed the way I live.

There were the decades that I brandished about the label of 19th century romantic, comfortable in believing that life is in the striving and the arriving is secondary. It was my variation of Emerson’s “life is a journey not a destination.”

For me, however, arriving was important. It meant goal accomplished, an item checked off my list. Age has shown me that the value of a list is in its items. If the items reflect our practice, every day is a fresh read of our life.

These days, my list is limited to four items: compassion, loving-kindness, joy, and equanimity for all in all things. This universal list is inherent in every major spiritual tradition, eastern or western. They are not items to check off but to practice in every experience I have.

What we give to the world is our daily practice; it reveals how we are doing. At the age of 90, cellist Pablo Casals said he continued to practice, “’because I think I am making progress.’” Practice is personal first and public second.

To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
Corita Kent

where now 0425I came late to practice and to its heart, discipline, but I arrived. My daily practice of meditation and yoga bring me to my list of compassion, joy, love, and gratitude every morning. Some days, I can see progress but there are many days of practice for its discipline.

Discipline helps me as a writer and as a chronically ill person, as my life not only constantly changes but expands in ways I never imagined. Yet, the list that guides my life stays the same. No longer interested in striving or arriving, I perceive my life through perspectives new and bold. My discipline is not manipulating my state of being but being in my life as it unfolds.

My life and my list differ from yours yet it is the practice of our lives that connects us. Together, we are coloring existence for every other form of life.

In my life practice, meditation is more than a matter of sitting in stillness. It really is a matter of “changing postures,” as Ajahn Chah called it, bringing stillness into the chaos of everyday life as it unfolds, moment by moment, nanosecond by nanosecond.

Mostly, I am learning to juggle rather than to struggle, no matter how many balls I have in the air. The juggler focuses on tossing each ball high enough to keep the others in the air. Each receives attention in its turn. Life list in hand, I meet the day, ready to juggle.


KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. She blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2014 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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