Live to plan, or plan to live?
Plan. A word I have heard and used from the time I could understand it! But in really thinking about the word itself,it brings me new meaning. As I get older, I realize through this thinking that PLAN is a means to an end. I have always been a planner. Somehow one of my messages growing up was that if I didn’t plan, I was being careless, or impulsive! I was taught to plan what I was to wear to school the following day, and there was NO room to change my mind in the morning! When things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, the message was, “Well, if you had planned better this wouldn’t have happened!” And as all intentional or unintentional messages help develop all of us in the ways we look at the world, I began to believe that PLANNING was secure. It was in fact a means to an end. All I needed to do was to plan. Then, as I grew, “life” happened! Sometimes it was insignificant to the whole of me; like when I planned a picnic with friends and it rained. Other times it was very significant and was a sock in the gut. I would often sputter in disbelief, “What do you mean? I did not plan for this!" I planned for a whole other outcome!
And because of my learned belief system, planning was imperative to my well-being, I had to learn new tools and new strategies to help me navigate life when the plan doesn’t work! I did learn that lesson in some hard ways over the past few years. But it has given me a wealth of understanding and perspective that has added happiness to my life. Planning is in fact important. But that is all it is-a way to see how things can work out. The important thing to learn is that if the plan doesn’t work, you can always make a new plan!
As a teacher, Instructional Coach, and most importantly, Grandma, I reach for my books to help me learn what is important and then share that new learning with others. I search to find the characters that will speak to me or to my students or grandchildren. And through the voices and experiences of characters we can identify with, we are helped to “see” how to live in a world that you cannot always plan for. One book that comes immediately to mind is Because of Winn Dixie by Kate de Camillo. Another one is Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Reading those books with children is one of my favorite memories. They both are written so beautifully and through the words and the life of the characters, they reach children of all ages. Every time I read it with kids, I learn something for myself, too. In Winn Dixie, Opal was a planner, yet every time her plan developed a wrinkle and she had to find another way. Annmarie Johansson certainly taught us what can happen to plans as she navigated the constant changes in her life. She learned how to live with plans changing, and then adapt to that change. Watching children as begin to internalize the meaning behind the words of the author, is life changing. I have letters and messages from some of those students who are now parents thanking me for sharing those books and how even as adults they use the lessons they learned from within their pages. As an adult, I hunger for books that help me understand how to navigate this often unbalanced world we live in. Case in point, 2020!! Through the books that are written and those that are read, we learn how to live with uncertainty. I learned this old adage is true for me: I will no longer live to plan, but instead plan to live.