Sunday, October 30, 2011

Seat of My Pants

Planning is a huge part of life.  We plan schedules, shopping trips, meals, even fun and alone time for ourselves and time with spouses and friends.  In families with important events happening seemingly every day, it takes little for even the loosest plan to be thwarted, and restructuring to take priority.  I don’t relish plans being interrupted by heavy traffic making us late for a plane departure or sudden sickness cancelling a dinner party, but it typically doesn’t throw me into panic mode when these things just happen.  I’ve got to handle what’s being laid down on the floor in front of me.  It may suck, but carry on.

I’ve never been a brilliant planner beyond writing stuff down on a calendar and then following my own written instructions when the day comes.   Planning is different from strategizing, which my dear husband oh-so-compassionately pointed out that I simply don’t have the knack for; his ability to beat the pants off of any adult at checkers when he was a child indicates the birth of his genius-level ability to see events occurring ten steps into the future, while my stark inability to discern that we need to take two cars to an event because he and I will part ways at the end of it points to my alarming deficit in strategic thinking.  

I was a better planner in the past when I only had myself to worry about, a gift I accuse my husband of hoarding on days I feel overwhelmed with a million menial tasks.  I’ve come to think that planning is a luxury only those who have a majority of control over their lives can afford.  Because my life at any given time is divided into four parts, I only get a maximum of 25% control over my life.  Most days, I whine that the percentage is much smaller.  Therefore, making plans is not really on my list of priorities.  Organic flow is probably the best way to describe how each day goes.  

What’s problematic about my laissez-faire attitude towards planning is that because I don’t make them, I also don’t often get a chance to make them if I wanted.  My family has lots of things they want to do, and if there is a free afternoon or evening, it is often suddenly filled with something to do, days in advance and way before I see it.  This shouldn’t bother me, but it does.  I’m a slow mover, made slower by the constant doing and being for everyone else around me.  Sometimes I’m quick enough to deem a free evening or weekend MINE and no one is allowed to make any plans, but usually each new days rolls in already encumbered by one or two other priorities.  These usually are plans made by others that invariably include me, or some part of my offering.

As a new year looms, most of the plans that have already been made for the future roll into a time for which I have no calendar prepared.  I have a new calendar in the top drawer of my desk, just inches from my elbow right now.  Its presence is almost audible, and it thrums louder and louder from its resting place as the days get shorter and the first of the year approaches, and as more and more plans are scribbled on post-its and thrust into the back of my current calendar.

I can hardly bring myself to open it and fill in the days with meetings, doctor appointments, parties, visits, and scheduled practices and children’s activities.  For a while, I like to think of those empty calendar pages as staying empty, ready for my own haphazard plans, made when I feel like it, or no plans at all.

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