Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Passing on Plans

Well, this blog's two-year anniversary has come and gone, passing by swiftly with nary a post. Oops! The past month has been absolutely full of surprises, joys, stresses and nerve-wracking wonderment. That up-coming post on the role of imagination in practical polytheism, which believe it or not I began brainstorming on the very first day of February, has yet to be written... still lurking somewhere between the sloppy notes and the sloppier outline stages.

That's the funny thing about plans. Sometimes, they happen, sometimes they don't. Today, I am awaiting the arrival of a person I have been wanting to meet for quite a while now, a person who only a few months ago was merely another acquaintance among many online. By this evening, I hope to call him a "firl" (that's "friend in real life," for those unfamiliar with the latest interwebs lingo that I just made up). That certainly wasn't in any of my plans.

In fact, over the past several years, I've found myself shying further and further away from plans. All through my childhood and adolescence, I was painfully aware, as many people probably were, of how overly structured and future-focused my life always seemed. Do well in middle school so you got into the top track in high school. Do well in high school--AP courses, extracurriculars, top grades and enough diversity in hobbies and friends so that you didn't appear "one sided"--and you were on your way to an excellent college. Do well in college... well, that one's obvious. Or so I thought. Do well in college, and you'll get a good job or an acceptance letter into your top-pick of graduate school. Which is exactly what I did get. And I went for a semester, and found myself hating it. (Do well in grad school and pay through the nose so that, what? I can be pruned and indoctrinated for a job in academia that I don't really want to begin with? No thanks.) A few years later, and here I am, former valedictorian-distinguished-interdepartmental-honors girl, waiting tables part-time and swinging through my life day to day like some Jane in the jungle... and absolutely adoring it. To hell with plans.

Now, I don't mean to say that I don't have goals. Most certainly I have goals, which are distinctly different from plans. But my goals these days usually involve things like regular practice, patience, baby steps forward into the ever-fluidic future. A goal is a spot on the horizon towards which you travel, walking or running or dancing, however you feel like moving on any given day. A plan, that's something else. A plan is a moment-by-moment instruction, a list, a schematic. Those diagrams with monotone shoe-prints and numbered arrows that claim to show you how to waltz, now that's a plan. You can get places with plans, of course, but you might be too busy with your eyes on your feet to see where it is you're going.

So here I am, today. The past few days have been chockfull of plans. To keep myself from being nervous about this upcoming visit, I set myself a checklist of spring cleaning projects. Scrubbing down the bathroom, tearing apart the kitchen to clean every nook and cranny, even washing and polishing my hardwood floors. I went to the grocery store and the bank. I planted seeds (rosemary, lavender and chamomile). I finished up a few torn curtains that needed stitching. I dusted and refreshed all my various altars, shrines and home decor arrangements. I did as many loads of laundry as I could honestly justify being a single woman with a limited wardrobe (seven). Now, it's just past six-thirty in the evening, and I've run out of things to do. The past two days have been lost in a blur of work, planning and replanning, checking off lists and adding to them. The apartment is clean and smelling of cleansing incense. The laundry is finished and the towels and sheets are folded, the bed is made, the pillows in the living room are tastefully arranged.

I feel as though I've missed something.

Plans have excellent uses. It's hard not to make plans, to give in to that compulsion to organize and categorize, especially when you have something to look forward to. It's been a long time since I had something, some new unknown, to look forward to, to anticipate with a mix of excitement and bewilderment. Having exhausted every recourse to thoughtless busy-ness and work, I think now I will try something else: I will sit inside my anticipation, savoring the coming unknown. I will attend to this moment, right here, right now. I will cherish this bewilderment, this utter lack of preparation that I have cultivated with my willful distraction. I will live my life, just as is this very hour, and I will absolutely adore it.

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