So I was on the ole book of face perusing through pages of status updates and shares when I scrolled upon a post from Liz Gilbert…I know, I know…I just posted about her and I don’t intend for this post to be another Liz love fest (even though I do love Liz and if ever someday I am being interviewed for something somewhere and someone asks me that question – you know that question – who has been your greatest influence or who inspires you – you can bet the farm that Liz Gilbert will most definitely be top o’list in my answer. Okay, so back to what I was saying – err typing – I came across a post regarding the 10th anniversary of Eat, Pray, Love. The post pays tribute to a collection of stories by real people – just like you and me (whaaat?)- who were inspired by Eat, Pray, Love. In fact, Eat, Pray, Love Made Them Do It (I have yet to buy a copy of this compilation of stories but plan to do so in the very near future). Whatever it is that they wrote about Eat, Pray, Love is to blame. In a good way. What caught my eye in this particular post however, was one of the comments from a woman named Sylvia. Sylvia made a comment to Liz congratulating her on the 10th anniversary of EPL noting the inspiration that she, like so many others, found in the book – but then continued on to say that the big things she was inspired to do weren’t working out as she had planned…
“Dear Liz, congratulations. This book was the impetus for me to “try” and do big things with my life. But my plans (remarry and have a baby) aren’t working out. I realize you’re not a short order cook that I can order up wisdom from, but if you get inspired to talk or write about finding “Plan B” in one of your talks, I’m all ears. I feel like I’m self destructing. I’ve never been a hammer, and I’m not even a hummingbird anymore. I just sit on my couch and cry everyday, 2 cats on my lap, reruns on TV. I do pray, but I just. Can’t. Get Happy. I need a plan B.” Sylvia
Listen, I don’t know if it’s right or wrong to quote Sylvia here on my blog, but honestly I don’t care. I was moved by her comment. And my little friend named inspiration came a knocking. And not a soft “housekeeping” knock – more like a “this is the police” kind of knock. And I suppose being the daughter of a police officer I learned at an early age that when the police knock at your door – you answer. You do not run and hide.
Plan B…that was the knock I heard. Probably, because I am all too familiar with Plan B. and C and D and E and F and G and H and I and J…and Z. And let’s start the alphabet all over again. Hell, let’s even bring in a few other languages’ alphabets to cover all the plans I’ve made and remade.
Plan A. Go to college, become All-American cross-country runner, study medicine, marry high school sweetheart, become a pediatrician, have 3 maybe 4 children, and live happily ever after.
Plan B. Go to college, succumb to a sciatica injury and burnout that sidelines “All-American” running career, break up with high school sweetheart, barely pass first year of classes, move back home, get a job, take classes at local community college, and frequent the local bars every.night.of.the.week.
And so it goes with plans C and D and E and F and G and H and I and J and Z and all those in between…my best laid plans.
I could continue on and on regurgitating the plans that I made and the plans that made me – but what I wanted to get at in this post – in response to you, Sylvia – is this – what I have learned about plans A and B and C and D and E and F and G and H and I and J and Z and all of those in between takes me back to this one simple quote adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” And thank God that they do. Because on the other side of all of those plans, I have found a most amazing life. And standing here, on this side of the plans gone wrong, I wouldn’t change a thing.
And through all of those plans I have learned this. Your best laid plans will go awry. Particularly when your plans include others. In fact, almost always when your plans include others. Because we only have control over ourselves. And somehow, somewhere in between plans A and B and C and D and E and F and G and H and I and Z, I’ve learned that the only thing I can plan for in this world is what I do and how I react.
Sylvia, while I only know of you through a comment on Facebook, I want to share this with you – because you inspired me – this post actually. While it may be difficult to see when you are in the trenches, plans gone awry are many times the greatest gift of all. So here’s to you and your Plan B and C and D and E and F and F and H and I and J and Z – for what it’s worth.