Mice and Men

An empty calendar makes me very happy.  I generally don’t like to plan ahead.  I like to wing it; going shopping without a grocery list, packing my bag ten minutes before I leave for a trip, not planning my yoga classes until I’m in the studio waiting for students, hitting shuffle on the i-Pod instead of making playlists.

It’s been a part of my personality for a long time now. I’m not a planner. It’s the opposite of OCD. I call it OID, Obsessive Impulsive Disorder.   I always thought this behavior was driven by my sheer laziness, or paralyzing fear of commitment.  Or that I work best under the pressure of a fast approaching deadline.

Some people carefully and painstakingly plan things.  They work everything out in their heads before they execute.  They write everything down.  Their heads are full of details, lists, scenarios.  They have a plan.  And they have Plan B.  And maybe even Plan C.  It is their way of keeping things under control, or trying to.

Not me! I’m no control freak!  I fly by the seat of my pants, go with the flow.  No control issues here.

One day, not too long ago, I heard someone say that not planning is a means of control It was just a passing sentence. I can’t remember where I was, or who said it.  But I do remember that it struck a chord in my head. I put it in the back of mind and let it bounce around for a while.

I came to realize that I am a non-planner because the only thing I know for certain is that nothing is certain. Somewhere along the line I internalized the idea that things just don’t work out.   The best laid plans of mice and men often (always?) go awry.

So then, this not planning thing I do (or don’t do?) is my way of controlling the uncontrollable.  If I make plans and things don’t work out, I’ll be disappointed.  But if I make no plan at all, well then, how can I be disappointed?  If I have no expectations, I won’t be let down.

Wow…Non-planning is starting to sound pessimistic, and cynical, and a bit passive aggressive.  And here, I thought I had given those things up. I thought I was letting go and living a carefree life.  But maybe my pessimism, cynicism, nihilism had just morphed into something else, found a clever disguise.

And maybe this is one of the behaviors that has kept me from pushing myself, from setting lofty goals, from planning on bigger and better.  It’s not just laziness, or lack of commitment.  It’s a control thing.   I’ve been trying to control the inevitable disappointment at the end of it all.

With all of that in mind I decided I will try to plan ahead a little more often.  To teach myself that even though it is all right to wing it, it is also all right to make plans, to dream and to aspire, and to be pleasantly surprised by the outcome, whichever way it may go.

Last night I decided to make a plan for my 6AM yoga class.  I went through some sequences in my head, and came up with an idea for a dharma talk. I even made a play list on my i-Pod.

Only one woman showed up for class today.   Another plan shot to hell.  Instead of using the flow and talk and play list I had planned it was a private yoga session dictated entirely by her and her practice.  It was not at all what I planned or expected.  But it really was a pleasant surprise.

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