Friday, March 25, 2016

What Happens While You're Making Other Plans

You know the saying life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. It defines my relationship with long term planning. Yes. I need a plan, it provides direction without being as bossy as the GPS in my car. Plans, for me, have to be loosely held otherwise all life gets crushed out of them.

Owning the boat we do and living aboard it were long term plans that came to fruition. Publishing - also a long term plan that worked. Sorta. In true plot-twist fashion, nothing quite works out the way you'd envisioned. I'd imagined a long string of scifi titles to my name by now. Instead, the publisher asked for anything that wasn't scifi. Well okay. There's that bossy GPS after all, yelling at me that I'm taking a left NOW into other genres until I find home.

The reason the cat in the sunbeam is up there is that he illustrates one of the finer points of long term planning. Every single one of us tucks our hopes and ambitions and drives into our goals. Those goals reflect some of the finest points of our aspirations for ourselves. And then the universe hands us a situation that shows us that our priorities weren't what we thought they were. Or maybe I'm just a terrible planner. Point is, the elderly gentleman above has set his paws on his path out of this life. It's a long slope for him, one that could take another year to two years, if I'm lucky. The trade off is that I'm on call for him 24x7. Medications. Shoveling food into him. He cannot be left for more than four hours at a time. I understand it's a little like having itty bitty kids - cause he gets me up every few hours of the night to tend him. And not a bit of this was factored into my long term plans. Any plans, really. Sure. I still have long term plans and I am still working toward them. But let me stress how this guy getting sick utterly altered what I believed were my priorities.

Most of us think we understand our priorities. I'd submit that we don't. Not entirely. We're human and we operate from a particular blindness that assumes everyone and everything we love will remain the same - unchanged. Forever. Intellectually, we get that's not true. But until the severe mental illness strikes you or one of the people you most count on in the world, until that panicked midnight emergency run somewhere with someone you'd trade places with in a heartbeat, your priorities haven't been put to the test.

Every one of us are going to run into bumps in the long term planning road. It's why I've learned to hang onto my plans loosely. Because when life happens, it sometimes pays to examine your fistful of plans and cast aside any that no longer make sense. Once you've done that, though, the vital thing is to keep going. Creep toward the goal. Crawl if that's what you have to do. Just keep moving in the direction of the dream. Whatever it may be. That's where you'll find me. Out there hobbling along my road, muttering at my GPS to shut the fuck up.