I had a plan this morning. It was a good plan. It was a responsible plan. It was a plan to maximize time, a plan to get away and do a bit of restful recovery. I have been doing responsible life things for a while now but secretly living for that plan. Then two things happened this morning:
- I woke up with a nasty little migraine threatening to grow into a nasty big migraine.
- I had a call from a friend who needed to be heard by a friend.
Now the migraine thing is basically the universe’s way of conveniently locking me into place — I’m hypersensitive to light and sound when I’m in that moment. It requires a very simple choice: to forge ahead and endure the pain for the entire day(s), or to practice self care by sleeping in a dark quiet room for an hour.
Lose a day, lose an hour. My choice.
So I succumbed, rewriting the plan in my head as I crawled back into bed, shuffling things as best I could to mitigate the delay, so that I could get back on track with the plan — because that plan was my ticket to a few days of freedom. When I resurfaced I was behind but I was better rested, with the pain obediently receding from the forefront of my skull. I started back in on the plan, only to have the plan diverted again by a phone call. A phone call from one of a handful of people whose call I take no matter what.
Ignore the call, or be present for this person. My choice.
I picked up. My friend started out by apologizing for not answering a text from a week ago and launched into an explanation of the insane schedule they’d been juggling for almost three weeks straight; a schedule that would break lesser people and make them rock in a corner or, worse, simply walk away. Underneath this recitation, however, I sensed another need — the need to be acknowledged, to be heard and not judged; the need to be told it’s okay to be human. I didn’t hesitate to give what was needed. It’s what we do as friends. As humans.
When I got off the phone, it hit me that I’d heard a lot of crazy in my friend’s voice; it was the same crazy I was feeling because I was off the plan I’d so responsibly put together, and I was going to let people down because I wasn’t sticking to the plan. But when I came up with the plan, nowhere in it did it say “push yourself to insanity while you try to accomplish all the things, and then you can reward yourself with sanity.” My peace of mind never figured into the plan at any point. But it should.
So I gave myself permission to change the damn plan.
Immediately, the tension in my body relaxed. I gave myself permission not only to leave the bed unmade, and the sink unscrubbed, and the packing list unfinished. (PEOPLE, THERE’S A FALLBACK IF YOU FORGET TO TAKE SOMETHING WITH YOU. IT’S CALLED A VISA CARD AND SHOPPING.) I even gave myself time to write a blog post about it, because I think it’s way too easy to stress ourselves out when life doesn’t go according to plan. After all (to paraphrase an irritated Captain Barbossa), the plan is really more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.
It’s up to us to recognize when the plan isn’t working. We have the power to change the plan in order to make our lives better. Let’s not lose sight of this power amid the self incriminations and best laid plans. I’m weary of planning through the present to get to tomorrow, and you should be too. Let’s be present in the now.
Speaking of which, I’ve got a road trip to get started. Places to see. Plans to be… tossed. Even if it was a good plan.
It’s an even better plan now.