So last Saturday morning, high on the thrill of having launched my Online Journal (aka Da Blog) on the spur of the moment with no exhaustive plan (not my norm), I decided my plan going forward would be to write a new installment every day. Now that’s more like the overachieving-pain-in-the-tukus Deborah my friends and family know and tolerate. Let’s take a wonderful, spontaneous event and turn it into an obligation. Let’s suck every last ounce of fun out of that puppy and make it a burden. Because heaven knows, Deborah doesn’t deserve to have fun. I mean, what would happen to the Universe if Deborah didn’t have both hands on the steering wheel of Life keeping everything orderly and everyone safe? I kid you not when I admit I had to use a Thesaurus to find a word that means unplanned or unrehearsed (duh, spontaneous) for the introduction to this piece. I knew there must be a word like that and it kept flitting hither and yon in my head, but for the life of me I couldn’t grab onto it. Maybe it’s because I demonstrate it so seldom that we are nearly strangers.
And why is it that spontaneity and I are such distant cousins? Because everyone knows that Perfection (the P word) is the only worthy goal in life and that Perfection comes from planning, copious planning, nauseatingly exhaustive planning. Because planning controls destiny and that’s how everyone stays safe, right? NOT! Control (the C word) is an illusion at best, and no amount of planning really controls anything. It organizes things and sometimes reduces the number of surprises, or the surprisiness of the surprises, but I firmly believe we do not make anything happen. If something is meant to be, it will be no matter how you try to block it. And if it’s not meant to be, no amount of planning or remaking yourself into what you think the situation requires will make it happen. It will just tie you up in knots and make you and everyone you know CUH-RAY-ZEE! Witness the final eight years of my consulting career. But that’s a story for another day.
Lest you accuse me of advocating irresponsibility and sloth, I do think it’s useful to plan. It’s just important for us to realize that Life may not be in alignment with our plans. And if that turns out to be so, the sooner we recognize it and get ourselves in alignment with Life’s quirky, capricious, unpredictable Plan, the happier we’ll all be. If the events of the past 56 years have taught me anything it’s that, despite my intelligence, intuition and demonstrated anal retentive control freak planning skills, I sometimes don’t have a clue what’s best for me or anyone else. Thanks be to Life who intervenes, despite my best efforts to the contrary, and forces Its plan on me whether I’m ready or not.
So back to my “plan” for Da Blog. Saturday I published two installments. Sunday I got busy with other things and missed a day. No problem, with two on Saturday, I was still on plan, I told myself, “averaging” one a day. Then Monday (yesterday) dawned bright and cheery. My “plan” for my day went like this: I’ll have breakfast, do my written meditation, write for the rest of the morning, have lunch, go to the gym, then study in the afternoon, have dinner and create art in the evening (tired yet?).
But it went nothing like that. I got up, made the mistake of looking at my email and then answered emails, paid bills, filed papers, ate a miniscule breakfast on the run, went to the gym, was exhausted when I finished because I had consumed insufficient calories to fuel my workout, went home, made a huge healthy raw veggie salad for lunch with 2 ounces of protein and an apple, then proceeded not to eat most of it because I decided to catch up on my sewing work – I’m a tester for an independent machine embroidery designer and I’d fallen behind the week before working on that 33-page Life Review for my life coaching certification. Two new sewing clients showed up at 1pm (I had neglected to account for their planned visit in my plan for the day), stayed an hour looking at designs, chatting and playing with my youngest cat, Maisy (putting me even further behind, how dare they have fun on my watch). I then sewed until 9:30pm – managing to multi-task by planning a seven-part series for Da Blog on how I lost all the weight last year and refining my notes for my next 23-page paper for life coaching. At which time I realized I had consumed a total of 480 calories to fuel me during the first 15.5 hours of my day (NOT how I lost the 75 pounds last year and NOT my recommended diet). Then, because I’d promised myself and everyone who cares about me that I absolutely would not become anorexic like I did at age 19, I had to try to consume 1500 more calories (I managed 1000) before bed. It’s not an ideal way to balance daily caloric intake, but if some days I have to pack most of them into the final waking hour of the day then, by Zeus, I do it. Because anorexia is no joke.
Whenever people imply I have issues with control, I object. I have no issues with control. I LOVE IT! Unfortunately, it doesn’t love me back. It’s not even my friend. Most of the time it laughs behind my back, sometimes it has the audacity to laugh right in my face. So how does all of this fit in with the opening of today’s story? Given that Monday was a day when Life and Control conspired to laugh at my plan behind my back, I did not manage to publish Da Blog dat day. Tuesday morning dawned cold and dreary – no kidding it was raining and 40 degrees here in Colorado, a state that boasts 300 sunny days a year and no humidity. I started the day by smacking myself around and insisting that today I would be much more disciplined (a synonym for the C word – isn’t it interesting that I know so many synonyms for the C word but so few for spontaneous?). Clearly I still didn’t get it. So Life and Control had to team up yet again, filling my morning with things that needed to be done other than writing blogs. I did have a few moments of enjoyment finalizing the materials order for a new art medium I’m getting ready to teach but otherwise, I had no fun, I swear – like that would be a Capital Crime. Life and Control tag teamed me all morning. Six hours whizzed by, minimal breakfast again and I headed for lunch more than a little shaky realizing I hadn’t written anything for Da Blog. Did some meditative breathing which got rid of the symptoms but did nothing about the root cause. So I said, fine, I’ll just be a Slacker again today, not write anything for Da Blog and only work on my life coaching paper for the rest of the day. Maybe I could finish it in one day and then…..well you get the picture.
Unfortunately, I still wasn’t getting the picture. There I was, driving to lunch, having given up my old plan and working hard on my new plan when, in a moment of Grace, it hit me. What if my plan was the problem – or more precisely, what if I was the problem? What if this was how I gave myself ulcers and anorexia by age 19? What if this was how I became obese, burned out and depressed at age 50? What if my friend is right -that, it wouldn’t matter where we worked? If we were stocking shelves in Kmart, we’d have to be the best darn shelf stockers Kmart had ever seen. What if, my dear friends, wherever we go, there we are?
And, finally, I got it. I remembered what I knew in my soul – that the world and I will be best served if I publish when I have something meaningful to say, not when I’m supposed to have something to say. That if my goal is to touch your hearts and save you some agony by sharing with you the often painful lessons I’m learning about how to have deeper peace, longer lasting joy and more meaningful relationships in my life, maybe the best way to do that is to stick to my end of the bargain – pay attention to what’s happening to me, figure out what it means and pass the message on.
Funny thing, just like that, I was ready to write my next installment. There I sat in a restaurant, without a plan, frantically scratching notes on napkins and scraps of paper so I could hold onto all of this until I could get back to my laptop to share it with you.
So, my Fellow Travelers, I propose a much-needed holiday from all our planning. A day when we just go with the flow, drink a leisurely cappuccino or cup of tea, read the paper, play with the kids, pet the cat and explore the possibilities. Because anything is possible.
You are loved and loving. You are blessed and a blessing.
Namaste, Gentle Ones.
This is an issue near and dear to my heart. I realized some months ago that I needed to think about my watercolors in a way where I focused on the process, not the product. I became much happier along the way, and I also became much happier with the paintings I was making – a nice little side effect.
Recently, I had the revelation that I needed to let go of the control I try so strong to assert over the rest of my life, and life it in a way where again I have a focus on the process, not the product: to be less concerned with where I am going, than the face that I indeed am going.
I will let you know how it goes.
Life was not in alignment with my plans this week. I weaned my calves on Monday and they decided to smash up my corals that night so they could be reunited with their mothers. What a pain.
I’m reading a book on Zen and it goes along with some of your thoughts on control and life. Basically she contends that our life is perfect the way it is. And even you being frustrated by your plans falling through is the perfection. The moment we quit fighting life and accept it is when we begin living. It seems you did that.
I know you are extremely busy so don’t feel like you need to respond to each of my emails. I do enjoy reading your blogs.