Existence, by Jane Smith


It was Saturday, my typical run-errands day. My list included groceries, a bolt, and a tube of caulk that Phil needed to move the towel holder, which is turning into quite a project. And, oh yeah, a new hair brush from Sally’s Beauty Supply, not on the list but important because I needed it for our upcoming vacation.  

I complete everything in short order (so efficient!), and as I unload the grocery bags from the trunk, I remember the brush.   

Does that ever happen to you? The one thing you know you will remember turns into the one thing you forget? When I go to the grocery store without a list, I may or may not get what I went in for, and I may buy other things that trigger a “get that” response. If I don’t see the thing I went in for, well…who knows?

One of the distinctions of Dorrier Underwood’s work is existence. That means that things--read ALL THINGS--need to have a physical location to exist. If something is only in our minds, it doesn’t have any real existence. It is only a thought.

The brush I was thinking about exists at Sally’s Beauty Supply (so far as I know, because I found one there once), but it definitely does not exist where I am. It is nowhere really. The brush did not come home with me.

That call you agreed to? Unless a note about the agreement is in the calendar, it isn’t real, doesn’t exist. That trip I’m planning? If my reservation does not exist in Lufthansa’s computer, and if I don’t have a boarding pass, I have no flight.

I put everything in my calendar that I intend to do, and I can see where to go and when to go there. I enter the travel time and the planning time so I have to confront the reality of travel and planning the same way I would have to confront a brick wall. If I need to change something, I can do that, but first I have to SEE it to be able to change it, to move it to another spot in the calendar.

Existence isn’t only about a calendar or a list. Let’s say you want to do something that is hard for you, or that you don’t think is even possible. For example, John F. Kennedy said we will send a man to the moon and back within a decade. We didn’t have the technology, or even the materials to do that. But he said it “on the record”, people heard it and talked about it, and scientists who could do something about it went to work to make it happen.

When you speak something, declare it into existence, and people around you hear it as a commitment and repeat it, it has a chance of happening. Mohammed Ali said, over and over, “I am the greatest.” The person who began saying that was a scrawny kid from Kentucky, and he kept on saying it, backed it up with relentless workouts, and then others said it, and now it’s history.

When we make a promise to do something and say when we will do it, it needs to exist somewhere in our calendars until the when arrives and we can have it exist in action. And it needs to exist for the person who asked us to do it as well - in their calendar. The promise is now as real as it can be before it is actually completed.

Most of us have some system that works for us, however well it does. My husband is retired, so his life looks very different from mine. Routine is the essence of his existence system, and it fails him when a “new thing” shows up, since he doesn’t have any place to put it. Sticky notes, the corner of an envelope and napkins aren’t very effective. He uses me for his existence system quite a bit, and you know where I put things - in the calendar!

If you put the future into existence now, in the real world, you have a leg up. You can use your brain for thinking about things that entertain and inspire you instead of wondering about what you maybe forgot.

And you might not have to make a last-minute run to Sally’s Beauty Supply.


Follow Dorrier Underwood on LinkedIn.  


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