Planning Process

The month of May is one filled with busy-ness, even in this pared down version of the life I once lived. There are concerts, rehearsals, and numerous end-of-season events to attend, while the siren song of spring calls me to the flower beds and the deck chair. But where I once panicked at the sight of my scribbled over calendar pages, I feel much more sanguine about the the month of May - in fact, I feel a welcome sanguinity about life in general right now, savoring this sweet spot I’m in where everything is going well. This overall sense of well being is nudging me toward some tentative steps for dreaming of my future.

It takes a certain audacity to plan for the future at my age, and in these days we live in. Having lived through a period of personal and national upheaval (2009, I’m referring to you), it seems almost dangerous to make plans - I can plan and prepare all I want, but the world will always have an agenda of its own that may not comfortably coincide with mine.

I feel silly writing this, but at age 58 I’ve just now figured out that life doesn’t always go as planned. It isn’t as if I knew nothing about fate before 2009 - the year I refer to as The Crucible. But in all the years leading up to that one, I think I believed I was planning when I was really just moving events around, reacting to what life presented me and going with it (or not).

True planning - thinking into the future about something you’d like to achieve or have happen, defining and implanting events or actions toward making that a reality - that’s a totally different animal. Still, Jim and I are allowing our minds to creep forward into the next decade or so, allowing ourselves to imagine “perfect world” scenarios and ways we might get there.

It feels frightening to do that. The worrier in me is always ready with a caveat, a quick slap in the face when I get to deeply involved in my dream world. “Sure, that sounds great, but what if - the economy tanks again, one us gets seriously ill, my mother needs long-term care - etc. etc… Why should I put all this effort into planning when it’s more than likely that something -Fate, The Universe, Karma, or just plain Bad Luck - will swipe all those plans onto the ground in a heap of shattered dreams?

Here’s why I keep planning:

♥  Because I like the feeling I get from dreaming, I like having something exciting to think about when I wake up at 3:30 in the morning, in contrast to the many nights in the past decade when I’ve woken in a frenzy of anxiety about houses and stuff and bills and sickness.

♥ Because I want to live a hopeful life, not one bound by the constraints of fear. I want to be expansive, to walk around with my arms and my heart wide open to the possibility -dare I say the probability - of happiness.

♥ Because, although I usually eschew “magical thinking,” I am willing to experiment with Walt Disney’s notion - If you can dream it you can do it- with the poets and theologians and motivational speakers who believe that thinking can make it come true.

There is a yin and yang to this planning for the future, just as there is with all of life:  a determined effort but a willingness to let go, a strong push toward the ideal without pressure for perfection.   I’ve had a taste now of how A Good Life feels, and it’s all the sweeter for having passed through a time of fire a few years ago.  I know more about what I want and have a better idea how to get there.  It is impossible to control every outcome. But I have to balance my latent fears of fate with my shiny new vision of the future and move forward with as much confidence and hope as I can muster.