x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

My Life: Tackle the to-do list

Time waits for no woman with a to-do list, so tick off a must do today.

There is, in pride of place on my coffee table, the latest listings magazine covered in lots of enthusiastic circling.

If my rabidly scrawled-upon copy of Time Out Dubai is to be believed, I go to an African drumming class on a Monday, try a few circus tricks on a Tuesday, and learn to tango on Wednesdays and zumba on Thursdays. And as for my weekends - well, they're a flurry of exercise classes, horse-riding, camping in Musandam and yacht trips around Dubai Marina before I embark upon the working week on Sunday, but not before dabbling in a little early morning kayaking and/or dawn boot camp on Jumeirah Beach before the daily slog along Sheikh Zayed Road to the office in Abu Dhabi.

Do I do any of it? Not a bit. You are more likely to find me slumped on the sofa, shattered from the commute, with a takeaway as I revisit my DVD box set of Pride And Prejudice for the umpteenth time (freeze-framing the moment when Colin Firth plunges into a lake, of course).

Indeed, when a friend commented on the lurid magenta and green aerobics timetable from my local gym pinned to my fridge ("Gosh, you're taking this fitness regime really seriously, aren't you?") I was forced to admit it was there only because I liked the vibrant colours. The marginal guilt I feel every time I dive into the fridge for another chocolate bar is simply an unfortunate by-product.

But it must have had a cumulative effect because when one Saturday I found myself bouncing out of bed at 8.30am (trust me, that's early) I decided to procrastinate no longer. On went the workout gear and I ambitiously decided to walk the length of the marina to the gym, estimating it would take 10 minutes.

Twenty minutes later, I was nowhere near, pouring in sweat and, in the heat of the late summer, parched without a drop to drink. When I staggered into the gym 40 minutes after setting off, half-blinded by the perspiration streaming into my eyes and with a searing headache from dehydration, I breathlessly conveyed my intentions to put myself through the instructor's rigorous paces.

The receptionist raised one eyebrow, looked at the clock and said: "You're too late for the class. It began at 9am and we have a no-entry policy after 20 minutes."

I squinted at the clock's dial pointing to 9.22am. Couldn't she make an exception? After all, I had only just missed the deadline and had clearly had my warm-up.

But she was adamant, so thoroughly aggrieved and with a still thumping head, I stomped off home, stuck on the DVD I Want Those Abs! (procured from the bargain bucket in Carrefour for Dh10) and proceeded to watch it while chomping violently through a bag of Doritos. I didn't want to overdo it - one step at a time.

This past week though, I have been reflecting on that vast gulf between the lives we think we ought to lead and the ones we actually do while mourning the tragic loss of a dear friend and much-loved colleague.

I have never known anyone to embrace every life experience with such exuberance and relish each opportunity so enthusiastically, packing a lifetime into 37 short years, that it put the rest of us to shame. Rob Evans didn't have a list of must-dos so much as a list of have-dones.

But my sadness was tinged with bittersweet joy when my father phoned from Saudi Arabia to tell me he had fulfilled a lifetime ambition by completing Haj for the first time at the age of 70, overcoming his frail health to circle the Kaaba with blistered feet.

There is a lesson to be learnt from both their examples. So if you do just one thing today, make it something on your to-do list. I'm calling it Rob's Law.

Tahira Yaqoob is M magazine's staff writer.