The Unanticipated Life

I’ve often heard the saying “the best laid plans of mice and men, often go astray” but for the life of me I can’t remember who said it right now. I am also so determined to remember it on my own that I refuse to google it. Some people prefer “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” I also don’t know who said that, though I doubt I ever did, other than everyone’s grandma I suppose.

I am a planner, a schemer, a daydreamer, a list maker, a what-if-er, a pursuer. It is in my nature to calculate an outcome, or to carefully line up causes in pursuit of a desired effect. If I don’t know how to do that, I daydream about it – about every possible scenario and every possible outcome. It’s not that I’m nervous or a control freak, I just like to be prepared. I like to be able to anticipate what is next. Life should have taught me long ago the futility of such pursuits.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that life tried its best to teach me the futility of such pursuits, but that I thwarted that lesson at every turn. (Maybe Life didn’t expect that, maybe the outcome has changed, I wonder what effect that’ll have on… Wait. No. Stop.)

My life has never gone according to plan. Neither has yours. No one’s has. Not completely. Whether it was a long term plan or goal that never got to see the light of day, or a small detail that looked like it was going to work but didn’t – the success rate of my highly detailed plans is extraordinarily low. Career goals have taken sharp turns, buses have been missed, the whole gamut has been run. I used to be set on edge by this. Not only would my day be ruined but I’d spend endless time trying to regroup. But I don’t really do either of those things anymore.

I have really come to understand that to a significant degree, I cannot anticipate the future. My future is unanticipated, and it’s going to stay that way. I’m not going to stop making plans, because then I wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything. Life is still what you make of it. But I no longer expect the expected. That’s redundant, I know. But I no longer convince myself that an outcome will come to be. I thought I’d be more lost that way, but I find that I’m less lost. I’m not devastated when things don’t go according to plan. I can laugh, I can breathe, I can keep going without even a pause.

Maybe a part of this is believing that if something good doesn’t work out for me that in some way it’s making room for something better. I’ve never in my life been called an optimist – that isn’t what this is. I’m just open now. I’m okay. With just about anything. I can roll with the punches and I can take all the good I can from the experiences life throws at me. Do I know where I’ll be in ten years? No. Do I know where I’ll be in six months? No. Do I know where I’ll be at the end of next week? No. I don’t. And I’m excited about that!

I have a pretty active imagination, but the events that have unfolded in my life have gone much further than my strangest ideas could have taken me. If my life went according to plan, there’d be no real adventure. Even my planned adventures have turned into completely unplanned adventures. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So I don’t know what will be thrown in front of me next – that is the biggest opportunity of all, the biggest adventure of all. Living an unanticipated life is the greatest adventure. All it takes (ha, I can say that now) is releasing your grasp on the perceived life or death importance of your plans working out. They’re not going to work out. Because something cooler is coming your way. Things haven’t worked out before and look where you are. You’re fine. You’re great, believe it or not. And you’ll only be greater at the end of the next adventure.

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5 thoughts on “The Unanticipated Life

  1. Lovely post. Strangely, I found myself thinking about my own life yesterday. I may even pluck up the courage to write about my thoughts and conclusions. It was a lot to think about but like you I figured that planning your life can be a futile excercise. However, your life is what you make of it and that’s what makes it so interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed! Life is certainly what you make of it, we’ve just got to accept whatever it is that’s coming our way where we thought our plans would be. Looking forward to reading your post if you end up writing it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately it would mean revealing aspects of my life involving terrible and personal memories and unlike you, I’m not brave enough to be quite so open. Never say never though so we will see.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I recognise that quote as well… I know I heard it when I was learning about John Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men” but I think the original quote was by a Scottish poet? Or something like that!

    Liked by 1 person

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