My Nana used to drive me crazy with her lack of committing to a plan. Anytime I’d want to organize something with her for the future, she’d be totally vague. The conversation would usually go like this, “OK Nana, so, let’s make a plan. How about in the spring I come back to Toronto and I’ll take you up to Barrie for the weekend...sounds good?” To this she’d usually shrug. Even a lesser complicated plan would get a similar response. For example, “Nana, why don’t I come down on Tuesday and we’ll order a Hawaiian pizza from Pizza Nova? Sound good?” Again, a shrug, and usually something like, “I don’t know. I may not want pizza on Tuesday. Or there might be a storm and then no electricity. Or I might be dead.” For real, she’d drop lines like that.
I’d often get frustrated and say something like, “What d’ya mean, you don’t know? I’m telling you that I’ll be there in May and we’ll head up to Barrie. Why can’t you just make a plan?”
Nana’s ubiquitous response to any idea in the future was always something like this: Nana: “Oh Sarah, you caaahn’t make a plan”.
Me: “Well, actually, yes you can. Everyone does except you.”
Her response was not an aversion to answering questions, such as the common “We’ll see” that parents often give to their kids. That’s a passive aggressive way of saying “No” so kids won’t lose their shit and have tantrums. No, Nana’s response was actually heart-felt and true. She’d often say, “Je don’t know” with her best attempt to put on a French accent.
No, Nana’s response was truthful and she really felt that it was impossible to make a plan, because it was impossible to predict what was going to happen in the future.
Her plan to marry her first sweetheart Abe in England didn’t happen because he never made it back from the war. Her plan to immigrate to Australia didn’t happen because she got a response from Canada first and jumped on the first boat to get out of the UK. Having lived during the depression and wartime gave her the concrete knowledge that you can’t really make a plan. I mean, I guess you can try, but just don’t be disappointed when the plan doesn’t come to fruition.
I’m now experiencing how she felt. As far as I’m concerned, we are now living in wartime, and there is indeed depression, varying from economic to widespread emotional depression. Since I’ve been back from my Costa Rican bubble, I’ve been trying to make plans, that are changing as much as Barbara Streisand changes her outfits during a concert. I booked a flight to BC to visit my beloved Nelson, and had to change it because the province is literally on fire.
I had a house-sit lined up in Nelson, and that fell through due to the fires and my friend needing to shift her plans because she didn’t want to be camping in the smoke and soot.
A little while ago I had a plan to visit a friend in the south end of Barrie, and was deterred due to a tornado. Literally...a tornado.
Making plans with friends who have children is similar; you can bet that the day my bestie and I have a reservation for lunch on a patio, her kid is going to have an ear infection.
And so, I am now completely without attachment to plans. Living in Latin America for years has also geared me up for this way of being in the world. I remember years ago in Peru making plans with my dear friend Patricia. She’d always be telling me of the most amazing day that she’d have planned, “Oh, tomorrow amiga, we go to visit my horses and we ride on the beach. Then we have ceviche at this little place I love.” The morning would arrive and I’d be ready to put on my riding boots and chaps and saunter into the kitchen to find her in a bathing suit. “Oh, today is so much sun. We just relax here by the pool. I have my cousins coming for lunch.” This whole changing of the plan happened a lot, and really pissed me off at first. When I say at first, I mean for the first few years I lived in the South and Central Americas. It’s been a process. This “change in plans” continued during my time in Nicaragua and particularly the last couple of years in Costa Rica where weather truly dictates what’s going to happen. Oh yeah, and there’s that little virus that’s been going around too, which has made it nearly impossible to make plans, especially travel. I’m now in a space where I am truly comfortable with no real plan. My scheduled puritan upbringing of being in the world of academia and then teaching for so many years trained me to be extremely structured in terms of time and planning; lesson plans, planning field trips for the future, planning trips for my holiday time etc. etc.
And then something changed. I changed. The world has changed. I started to settle into allowing what the day unfolds, according to weather, mood, energy levels and other people’s needs. So today, I find myself back in Nelson, several weeks after the initial plan of being here, and see that this timing is much better. The smoke has cleared, the two-week housesit that would have left me homeless after the stint turned into a short-term rental in a friend’s place who is away in the States. She has a vintage 1974 Wurlitzer keyboard that I’ve been befriending and a bed that is beyond comfortable. Oh, and the running water is a nice touch (in the boathouse I was basically “glamping” sans running water). Sprit proves once again that this plan is far superior to my initial plan.
I went out to my land for the first time in about three years and was flooded with gratitude that I have such a beautiful place to steward. When I first bought it, the plan was to build a retreat centre. After working for years in the industry leading retreats and seeing what that actually looks like in terms of being an owner/operator, I quickly changed my mind. This gypsy soul did not want to be tied to staying in one place. So now, the new plan is to create a small spiritually minded community of tiny homes. Yes, there will still be healing and it is indeed a place of retreat. There will be workshops and ceremonies, but it will be in a space of collaboration and co-creation with all who live there, thus enabling me to still flutter my wings and go south.
I thank Nana for her wisdom, and find myself adhering to her way of answering when someone asks me to make a plan. Today for instance, has already deviated from the plan; my thought last night was to wake up early and go for a brisk hike. I awoke at 8am (very late for me!) and feeling a bit tired. My body landed here in Nelson a few days ago, but my spirit is still catching up. Hence, I brewed a cup of tea and felt like writing this instead. It’s a bit cold and overcast, so I’m now planning to set up my little music studio area instead. I do commit to one plan however, and that is to honour where I am in each moment and to continue to live this life in a state of wonder and gratitude, despite what is happening in the world. I continue to trust that the divine plan is better than my own idea of planning.
Thank you for being part of this journey...your presence is felt and appreciated.
Love and Light,
QUESTION FOR YOU: Can you think of a time you had a plan that fell through, and as a result, the new plan turned out to be much better than you could have imagined? Please share!