I'm tossing my life plan out the window. For dramatic effect, I'm going to light it on fire, blast "Chariots of Fire" and watch the ashes drift slowly to the ground. I merely need the ringtone version since I live in a ranch. Nonetheless, the fiery ball of frustration will be something to behold.
You see my friends, I need freedom from expectations. I've come to realize the fewer plans I make, the better, because things rarely turn out as I expect. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. No sir-eeee. I mean, I've attached a lot of high expectations to a lot of shitty plans.
In college I started as an International Relations major simply because I rocked a trench coat. Truth be told, I didn't take into account it was a white, patent leather trench coat, with massive shoulder pads which squeaked when I walked. The KGB might have heard me coming. But a spy has to look good, right, comrade? Alas, I failed Russian, Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall, and my asymmetrical hairstyle grew out.
Later I planned to marry the gorgeously tan Australian with the dreamy accent. After knowing him for what felt like a lifetime (in-whirlwind-romance-fairytale-time) but in actuality just three weeks (in normal-people-with-heads-on-their-shoulders-time), I packed my VW and followed my love to California. Things didn't go as expected. *Gasp* Young love only gets you so far. We relocated to Indiana, his tan faded, and incessantly hearing "no worries, mate" gavee me nightmares. As it turns out, the dreamboat was an illegal alien and my penchant for heels made me unsuitable for a life on the run.
Even some of my thoughtful plans have taken nose dives. Despite marrying a handsome attorney and counting on a life filled with safety and security, I'm currently on the installment plan with my divorce lawyer.
And though I swore I wouldn't turn into my mother (don't we all?), last Wednesday I caught myself saying, "Get your fanny back in that chair!" Just as I cursed myself for uttering those familiar words, I realized Mom's dish towel was now mysteriously draped over my shoulder, as if ready for a spill at any moment.
I take planning and expectations to the extreme. I mean, I don't stop with my life. l'm expecting my three boys to marry orphans from foreign countries to avoid having to share them on holidays. Seriously, that's a real plan. It's sick, I know. I need help.
As I light the match on my carefully plotted map of the future, how will I move forward? Will I be able to make plans without attaching expectations? Will I be able to experience life's moments as they unfold -- no matter the twists and turns? Can I stop fruitlessly trying to manipulate outcomes? Can I accept that I am where I'm supposed to be at this moment in time? I don't know those answers, however, I know I'm tired of trying to control things I have no control over.
William James, the father of American philosophy (duh), once said, "To change your life: Start immediately, do it flamboyantly, no exceptions." I'm wondering if that quote wasn't actually from his brother, Rick James, but in any case, it's time to let go and live a little.
Fire in the hole!
*A version of this post ran August 20, 2012. It was the first post on Hairpin Turns Ahead.