Monday June 4, 2001

A photograph of a London alley. I can't remember where I was when I took this. I think I was walking down Upper Street in Islington on my way to the tube.

I'm gonna whip around and come out into the light. I've had it with going to sleep when the sun comes up. I stayed up last night until noon and slept until 6pm so today I'm going for mid-afternoon. Soon I'll be on a schedule that should give me a decent number of daylight hours. I just haven't been able to get my errands done because everything's closed.

I want to write about a conversation I had with Amy on Saturday night. It was about plans. (As I write, the music I'm listening to accidentally warbles, "Gina, this isn't how I planned it") Plans and me haven't mixed much. I used to hate them because when I was younger, "you gotta have a plan" was a way for adults to make me feel like I was unmotivated and unfocused. I now know that plans have nothing to do with motivation and focus. What is a plan?

This question I posed to Amy because we were talking about what she wanted to do with her life. I will go as far as to say that plans don't have anything to do with what you want to do with your life either. Or, a good plan shouldn't.

I started off saying something that most people over 30 have figured out, that things never turn out the way you planned them -- and thank God for that. Most people will concede, when they look back, that their desires do not age gracefully and if the past is any example, what you want for yourself now is not what you're gonna want for yourself in 5 or 10 years. Amy agreed but said, "That is not what plans are for. They're for right now, so you know what you're doing and you're relatively sure what you're working toward." Ah ha! Yes. So plans are not blueprints for the future, they're a safety blanket. Plans are only a way to give meaning to what we are doing. It fits in the plan.

Well, this may be a severe distinction but is one that is important to me because it makes it alright for me not to have a plan. I don't have to succumb to societal pressure to say, "Yes, well, I'm going to buy a house and have 3 kids by the time I'm 40." 3 years ago I wanted to get married. Why? Fuck if I know now! How could I have made plans that included a permanent arrangement? When you make a plan you're saying, "I'm going to act according to my present beliefs and desires for the foreseeable future." Isn't this ruling out the potential to learn? Isn't it learning that makes getting older more fun?

So you've got all kinds of points for me to consider. Whoops, this is a one way conversation. I will concede that there is a genuine satisfaction that comes with having a plan and executing on it -- even if you never manage to achieve your goals. Any cassette-tape-slinging self-helper will tell you that. Should you make a plan and try to do it because of that? No way. You might say, "Yeah, well, getting married is one thing but what about planning to learn HTML or something? Small plans are quite functional." To this I say, "How long does it take you to change your mind? Do you want to do the same thing every day?" Short term goals are even more susceptible to getting re-thunk than big life changers.

You say, "I never get anything done! Yes, I change my mind a lot. That's my problem." So are plans the antidote to your fickleness? Think again. Or, just think harder next time. Analyze your desire. True living. No recipes. Sticking to plans, (like sticking it out for the stock options) can kill you.