The First Days

In Plans on December 15, 2010 by ryepdx

My first full day of freedom was productive, and for that I am glad. It meant I could avoid looking at the swirling, black vortex of the unknown I had headed into for one more day. As long as I keep my head down and stay busy, I reasoned, I don’t have to look at it. Of course, that’s not at all a workable strategy. The fact was, I knew I would have to look at it sometime. And I wanted to look at it, to figure out where I was headed. Sometime. Just not right then.

Oh, procrastination. On the positive side of things, I could afford to procrastinate just then. I had nothing at all set up, so anything I did was a step in the right direction. I wrote a blog post, I promoted my blog, I started desoldering components from all those circuit boards I had lying around.

I started building a condenser mic too! To me that was rather exciting. It took me a few days, but I managed to turn this:

Condenser microphone components

Into this:
Condenser microphone

Which sounds like this.

Pretty awesome, I thought. (I’ll be posting a “how-to” next week, if you would like to make your own.)

But then the swirling black vortex began to descend. “You need to reconcile your ambitions with reality!” It said. “You can’t just run about willy-nilly being ambitious! You need to know what you want to do! You need direction!”

“But- but…” I whined.

“No ‘but’s about it! Sit down and make a plan, even if that plan could not possibly stand the test of time! It’s better to have an idea of where you want to go than to have no idea at all.”

The swirling black vortex then went back to wherever it is swirling black vortexes live. (Canada, perhaps?) As for me, I escaped back into the world of procrastination, lured up to Portland by the dual siren-songs of my girlfriend and my band-mate.

But the swirling black vortex got me thinking: is it necessary to have a plan? Are plans inherent in people, or are they simply snapshots of some aspects of a person? What are plans?

Sorry to get all philosophical on you. I swear, sometimes I think I should have been a philosophy major. Then I remember I don’t actually like delivering pizzas and flipping burgers all that much.

This is one thing my band-mate and I tend to clash over though. I make plans. I don’t always accomplish those plans, but I make them, and once they’re made it almost takes an act of God to get me to abandon them. I’m the worst kind of type-A. I’m bullheaded. She, on the other hand, prefers to just “see what happens.” This sometimes drives me nuts. I feel like I’m at the mercy of whatever winds life throws at me if I don’t have a plan, or at least some sort of specific, short-term goal in mind. I feel like I always need to know the direction I want to be headed in at any given moment. Otherwise I start getting visited by swirling black vortexes. I’m not very neurotic about too many things, but I’m quite neurotic about life-plans.

But then I start to wonder if there isn’t some wisdom in just seeing what happens, seeing where life takes you. Because isn’t there some intention that motivates us all? If we choose to act so that we’re always moving in whatever direction is most attractive to us, then won’t we tend to end up finding a direction that fits us as people? Is it necessary to have a ready answer for life, or does life engage in Socratic dialog? Not that the two are mutually exclusive, of course, but I simply mean to ask if set ideas about where we want to go do more to help or to hinder. Does it even matter? Is it all a wash?

And how am I supposed to go about making a plan for something this open-ended anyway?


5 Responses to “The First Days”

  1. Wonderful guitar spot!

  2. The vortex is going to be there whether you have a plan or not. I think your band mate has the right idea with the “just see what happens” thing. Just sayin. 😛

    P.S: Sweet microphone!

  3. Not that I’m an expert on this by far, but I think that the two-pronged approach is right.
    You make the best plan you can based on the situation you’re in and the information you have, but you need to be able to see when life changes so you can take advantage of it and not be stuck in a pattern based on that previous, different situation.

  4. One of my favorite mentors, Jim Abrams – a wildly successful self made success story in the service industry, has a saying that I really appreciate…

    “Plan – or be Planned For”.

    Statistics show that 95% of our population goes through life with no written goals or plans for their life. The 5% that do have written goals and plans, are not just a little more successful than their counter parts, they are exponentially more successful than those with no plans.

    Considering the vast majority of us want us to be as successful in life as we possibly can, obviously we don’t have the self discipline required to do the work to get there.

    I stand convicted of this fact and as of today, I’m going to resume a very good habit that I have allowed to fade away and begin putting together my plan. For me, this includes my personal and physical growth as well as a detailed 2011 business plan.

    Remember this Jim Abrams quote – post it in your office – “Plan or be Planned For”.

    • First you quote, “Plan – or be Planned For”,
      then you say “Obviously we don’t have the self discipline required to do the work to get there”.
      Apparently you can see the holes in this self-help guru’s easy answer as well.
      I’d like to see the sources for the statistics you quote as well. This sounds bogus to me. I know plenty of people with big plans who went nowhere.

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