10.26.2011

Simply Living: Day 26: Simply the Next Thing

In case you were wondering, I like to know what's next.  I am slowly learning to let go of my need to plan, control, list and expect, but it isn't always easy and it isn't always fun. Believe it or not, we are just under a week from the end of 31 days of change and I am already planning what I want to do with the next 31 days, because having the plan makes it easier to come back every day and write. Having my writing voice back fits like a comfy warm hoodie that you sometimes put on in the summer just because it feels so good on your skin. I don't want to lose that voice so I made a plan.


But as I mentioned the other day, there are not many things in this world over which I can exert control which means that planning is frustrating process. If  you could hear my internal dialogue it would go like this:

"So, what's next?"
"I don't know. I wish I knew. Then I could make a plan."
"OOOOOOO! I love a plan! Let's make a plan!"
"We can't make a plan. We don't know what's next."
"We could make a list. A list of plans. Plans for every possibility."
"Do you think we have that much paper?"
"Yes"
"WOOHOOO let's make a plan! I am sure we won't be frustrated when things don't work out!"


I think you can probably see where this is going.  Most days, what's coming next looks like this to me:
my lake shortly after dawn this morning

I can't plan in this. I can only wait. I am not a good waiter. I can try to read the shifting patterns of mist on the water. I can try to mentally coax the sun to rise above the fog.  But I simply can't see clearly. This is when faith kicks in, because my personality tells me to keep watching, keep waiting, keep trying to discern that pattern and direction of the shifting earthbound clouds.

But there's this nagging little thing I like to call "real life."

It has responsibilities, children, appointments, schedules...things that don't go away even if  you don't have a grand plan.  Grand plans are nice. They come with fanfare and ribbons.  Sometimes there's confetti. Grand plans get a lot of recognition. What doesn't come with any glamour is "the next thing". The next thing is always there, like the sock whose toe barely sticks out from under the corner of the bed. You step over it for a week before you finally put it in the hamper.  It creeps around like dust on the baseboards.  It doesn't go away, and it isn't very exciting.

It does, however, have one very good trick.  It multiplies. The next thing always spawns the next thing until eventually you've strung your life like rosary beads, each one a sacred familiar prayer.  Familiar patterns emerge with out plan or fanfare creating order, maintaining peace, occupying space in life and in the mind until suddenly, you realize the mist has cleared

my lake after lunch today

Sometimes waiting brings a clearer picture than any plan you could have formulated, even if you had all the paper in the world to list the possibilities.






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