I am not much of a planner, or at least much of a long term one. I just don’t see the use in setting the future in stone when so many variables exist and can throw a wooden shoe in a cogwheel. You can plan all you want, but that doesn’t mean anything because life is unpredictable . Does that mean we should not plan? Don’t be silly.
Of course we should plan things, and when I say “we” I mean all people, including, obviously, myself. We need to plan things like where we are going to live when we move out of our parents’ house, when we leave college and enter the so called real world, what we are going to do with our lives, retirement, children, home ownership, what we are going to do on the weekend, during the week, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and so on and so on and blah blah blah…
I think I would like to be more of a planner. I say “think” because I am not so sure about this whole planning business. When I think about it I get kind of nauseous and nervous. Funny? Maybe. True? Positively. My stomach gets just a little bit queasy, my chest tightens ever so slightly, and it gets kind of hard to breathe. It’s called anxiety, or at least I am pretty sure it is called anxiety. That what it feels like anyway. It should be mentioned that this feeling only occurs when the plans are big, which is perfectly normal I am sure. There is nothing strange or extreme about the anxiety thinking about long term plans causes. And that’s the really what I mean when I say I am not much of a planner because in many ways I am a planner.
I plan my lessons. I may not always spend as much time on the planning process as I should, but I do plan my lessons, and I do spend time planing them. However, I do not plan every little thing that will happen in class. I usually just plan two or three real activities, and see how the class develops from there. It isn’t always the most successful approach, I’m sure, but for the most part it seems to work. I also plan what I will have for dinner, but usually only like the day of, or possibly the day before. Weekends are planned too. Well, sometimes. Other times there are no plans for the weekend but something comes up, this is a function of other people planning, and a good example of why we need people who plan.
To really illustrate my point about plans and disruptions caused by plans. A few weeks ago my friend was really sick. She lives in my building and we often meet and chat in the kitchen. Well, it was Sunday and we met in the kitchen and she was looking pretty green. We drank some tea and then she went to bed and I came back to my room to grade tests. That is what my life has been reduced to for the past month: grading tests. That statement is not entirely true, but it is mostly true; I have had to grade an insane amount of tests this semester, as well as administer speaking exams.
Back to the point: As I was reading yet another report on what should be done to improve a hypothetical gym (the students were gives a single topic to write on, and it happened to be something like they had to write a suggestion letter on ways to improve the fitness center mentioned in the topic) and was going kind of insane from reading like fifteen of almost the exact same essay. An exercise in mental fortitude, to be sure, but thankfully it did not take too long. So there I was reading once again about how the customers complained that the locker-rooms were dingy and needed better lighting, and I decided that I would make some chicken noodle soup for my sick friend the following day. I would have done it that night, but it was already kind of late and it takes me at least fifteen minutes to get to the nearest market, but usually more like twenty to twenty-five because it all depends on the tram.
On Monday I sent her a message and told her that I was going to make her soup that night, unless she had other plans. She didn’t because she was still sick. So I made chicken noodle soup from scratch, I actually bought some bouillon, but in my haste to get home and start on the soup, I totally forgot it in the store, along with the black pepper that I had bought. I was, to say the least, slightly annoyed with myself when I got back to my flat and discovered my donation to the Billa supermarket, or some lucky customer who was in need of black pepper or bouillon, or both. When I say I made it from scratch, I mean I made the broth. I didn’t make the noodles, they were store-bought, mainly because I didn’t want to make the noodles.
The soup turned out good. Either that, or she was just being polite by eating three bowlfuls. When we finished eating she told me that she would take me to dinner on Friday as a thank you. I accepted, cleaned my dishes, and left the kitchen to go correct more tests.
So Friday rolls around, we’ve had the whole thing planned since Monday remember, and I get a message from my French friend, and he says that he has friend coming up to Liberec from Prague, and that he is cooking dinner, and that he wants me to go to his house. He also mentions that my friend who ate the chicken soup is coming. Soon after that I get a message from her asking what we should do. Should we have two dinners? Should we just meet at the bus going to his house and eat there?
We ultimately decided that we would just go to his house and have dinner some other time within the next few days. We did eventually end up have lunch on Sunday, which is decidedly not dinner on Friday, so even though the plans were disrupted by other plans, it all worked out and the plans were realized.
This is a happy story, plans are realized, and everything works out. But this is not always the case with plans. Sometimes life gets in the way, and all those hard wrought plans are left to tumble down deserted streets filled with desperation and despair. Still, just because our plans sometimes fall through, we should plan. We need plans. They create order in an otherwise chaotic world. However, we should be careful not to cling too tightly to those plans, or to plan too much too far in advance. Humans are extremely adaptable, our evolution from Neanderthals to Homo Sapiens to Home Sapiens Sapiens and whatever comes next. We should apply that adaptability to the way we plan.
Make plans, but keep them flexible. Allow for the universe’s interference because it will interfere. It may not know that it is interfering with you and your plans, the Universe is a large and indifferent place after all, and it is hard to make strict plans in the face of infinite indifference. Despite this, though, I will try to do a better job of making more concrete long(ish) term plans. This does not, however, mean that these plans will be strict and set in stone; no, they will be loose and flexible.