Planning for the New Year

Those of us who suffer from Horizon Sickness — always looking ahead to the next thing instead of being fully engaged with the present — tend to be excellent planners. We maintain detailed lists; we’re fantastically organized; our desks are neat. We foresee everything.

Sadly, after several decades of insisting otherwise, we must admit that no amount of color Excel spreadsheets and Post-It notes on the refrigerator can bring order to a chaotic universe. So much, alas, is beyond our well-meaning control.

What you are reading is a from-memory transcription of something that got inadvertantly erased twenty minutes prior. I had a couple of nice paragraphs going, but know they’re lost and I can’t remember them. But I can simulate them. They were about how things never turn out quite how you expect them.

Staying the course — remaining in what seemed at first to be the best lane for your journey, refusing to change when given a brief chance — can sometimes lead to being stuck. The most efficient journeys travel in a straight line; the most satisfying ones meander and converge.

I would like to plan on publishing my new book in 2010. I would like to plan on the next record I produce becoming an international sensation. I would like to plan on being in better shape and health, even as I grow inexorably older. I would like to plan fantastic nature trips and impassioned art projects and ambitious home improvement initiatives. I would like all these things to happen, and I’ll do what I can to improve the chances of a satisfying result.

But the truth is life cannot be planned. It must be improvised.

The only thing certain in the new year is that life will continue to delight and confound, that it will be filled with joys and sorrows, triumphs and defeats, surprises and disappointments.

Therefore, the best plan is to be kind, to be kinder than before.

Nothing else really matters.

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