plans – noun \ˈplanz\
: a set of actions that have been thought of as a way to do or achieve something
: something that a person intends to do
I’ve got plans. Big plans.
Just this weekend, my husband and I finalized our plans for a beach vacation with the boys this summer. I booked a flight to Dallas for a meeting in May; I’m making arrangements for lunch with friends while I am there. Later this week, I will attend the Festival of Faith and Writing. I’ve been planning that trip for months.
And then there are the writing plans after my job ends in May, plans for the summer with family visiting and arranging work schedules, even plans for a small garden and a few improvements on the house.
As part of my work transition, I gave my employer a very long notice–nine weeks–partly to help them plan for the change since I have worked there a long time and have had my hand in many different tasks. And partly to give myself time to adjust to such a big change. But just today I was lamenting that decision to a friend. “I don’t mind change,” I told her, “But I don’t like being ‘in transition.’” Giving nine weeks notice at work meant I would be in transition at least nine weeks.
It’s not just tempting to spend the whole nine weeks thinking about the future; it’s essential. I have been organizing files and typing out instructions and making lists about everything that needs to be done when I am gone. Then, I come home and organize files and type out instructions and make lists for everything I am planning to do once I become a full-time freelance. Meanwhile, the actual work I should be doing today is little more than an afterthought. In fact, I don’t give much thought to today at all until I’m finally laying my head on the pillow. Just for a moment, I might talk with my husband about the events of the day. Then, I reach over to set the alarm and immediately start thinking about tomorrow and its plans.
I’ve got plans, but if I’m not careful, my plans will have me. I like to look ahead, to connive and anticipate. Half the fun of a vacation is imagining what we’ll do there on the beach, wondering if it will rain, researching fun activities nearby. Planning for my new work life is exhilarating and energizing. Even planning for upcoming work trips–packing clothes, making food, arranging for Tilly’s care–feels productive and important. But so much of my life these days is about what is coming, what’s ahead. And I’m afraid if I’m not careful, I’ll miss right now. That I might forget what a gift today is.
Sometimes, planning ahead creates those “right now” moments, though. This past January, I bought my husband a tennis racket as an anniversary gift. Actually, I bought him two tennis rackets. One is pink. (I mean, the guy has to play with someone, right?)
We schlepped home the tennis rackets and a can of balls and tucked them away in the closet, planning for a day when the sun would shine and the temperature would be warm enough to play. But it kept snowing and snowing and snowing. It snowed so much, in fact, I almost forgot about the tennis rackets. Over the past couple of weeks, though, on three different occasions, we finally pulled them out, and though we had a million other things we could be doing–it’s Spring, after all, the season when everything needs to be done at once–we drove to the court and played tennis. For a few minutes, we enjoyed right now–even if though I lost every game.
I’ve got plans, alright. But I’ve also got right now. And sometimes, right now wins.
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