“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon
Our society tends to be very goal-oriented. We set long-term goals and short-term goals. We make daily to do lists. High school freshman are expected to know the course of study they should take. College freshmen have to select a major area of concentration. It seems as if we should all have our lives wrapped up in a tidy prefabricated package.
Yet how many of us make our living using that college major? How many of us are doing something entirely different from anything we could ever have planned, expected or even imagined?
Change continues to happen at a whirlwind pace, leaving us exhausted and breathless. There are absolutely wonderful inventions, devices, careers, treatments and philosophies today that literally did not exist 20, 10 or even 3 years ago. Given that rate of change, how can anyone plan ahead?
Because we don’t know where we are going, it isn’t even possible to ask for directions. We may think we know our destination and people may give us directions they intend to be helpful, but something unforeseen can and probably will derail us. As they say, the only constant is change.
All that we really can count on is what is happening at this very moment. Yet how many people are waiting: to lose 20 pounds, to get a better job, to move to a better location, to learn a new skill, to meet some special someone, to remodel the house, to reconcile with a family member, or something else before they can start living and enjoying their lives? The excuses are endless.
In the meantime, magazines, webinars, television, social media, radio personalities, friends and family are all delighted to offer a tsunami of information, advice, tips, and shortcuts to these and many more desired ends. There are countless “how to’s” everywhere you look.
There is nothing wrong with making plans. Setting goals and making choices can be useful in starting us off on our way and getting us back on track when we wander off. But often what we learn about others and ourselves when we take those side trips is necessary and invaluable. And who’s to say that these side trips aren’t the true paths that we should follow?
I can’t read a map, so I have to pay attention to where I am. Maybe that is why I wonder what happened to being present and simply living the life we have now? What happened to accepting ourselves for who and what we are, imperfect though we may be? We are human beings, not saints.
Yes, we are all works in progress. We can and should aspire to better, healthier, happier, more successful lives. But living a life on pause, waiting for something that may or may not happen to transform our lives, is a sure recipe for regret.
May your learning be sweet.