Tangled in my own parachutes.

The last few weeks have been, to say the least, more challenging than usual.

I went on vacation, partly to have the luxury of actually having the total emotional meltdown my stress level has been stewing for months.  Partly, it was to create some space to make a few decisions about the direction of my life.

For about three years, I made a decision to not do the whole “five year plan” thing–to simply be open to whatever opportunities came along, while exercising reasonably good judgment.  It was a good idea at the time, and it has lead to some very good, unexpected places.

Things have changed recently.  I’ve realized that when you try too hard to keep everything open-ended, you end up letting doors close behind you by accident, as opposed to choosing which ones to walk away from.  Or you end up running in circles, and trying to keep all the doors open keeps you from actually going anywhere.

I’m the woman who always has a Plan B, C, D, and E–but in actual practice, all those plans usually amount to “stay flexible and roll with the unexpected.”

So I’ve realized that you can get tangled in your own parachutes.  Trying to keep a half-dozen backup plans in play is exhausting.  In fact, it’s probably at least as exhausting as making an exhaustive effort to achieve some actual goals.

In the end, trying to keep my options open was just my way of avoiding committing to a single dream.  I was scared of that.  After some particularly brutal reminders that life is full of unexpected derailments, the idea of pouring all my passion into a single plan seemed as ludicrously unrealistic as one of Wile E. Coyote’s blueprints.

But at least the Coyote knew what he wanted.  That’s something I’d like to experience a little more of, myself.

6 Comments


  1. ·

    Our first family vacation was rocked with the death of my mother in law. She passed peacefully, in her sleep. But, and this is the thing: we had a great time. Which is driving my wife crazy.

    Still, tragedy needs time. Time will pass, we’ll relive things, plans will change, live will move on. Actually, life moves on no matter what you do.

    In hindsight, my wife wishes we didn’t plan the vacation. But that too will change.

    Matts last story..What’s your barrier to action?

    Reply
  2. Kat
    ·

    I’m sorry to hear about your wife’s loss. And I can say from my own grieving experiences, you’re probably right.

    Plans are often futile, but I think we gain something from making them. That’s what I think I was missing these last couple of years. I’ll always roll with the punches–it’s part of that whole INFP temperament–but the act of making plans, of looking forward and imagining something that could be, has value.

    Reply

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  4. ·

    I’ve been pondering this sentence:

    “I’ve realized that when you try too hard to keep everything open-ended, you end up letting doors close behind you by accident, as opposed to choosing which ones to walk away from.”

    I’m a pretty big fan of going with the flow, and it’s generally worked pretty well for me. But I’m also pretty bad at actually making decisions … I prefer to have a roomful of open doors around me at all times, so that I can decide on the spur of the moment which one(s) to walk through.

    But I hadn’t really thought much about the way that doors close accidentally. Thanks for awakening a new little bit of my consciousness!

    Reply
    1. Kat
      ·

      Hey, Greg. The thing with those accidental closures, in my experience, is that you have this moment of disorientation. Suddenly, that particular door seems waaaaaayyy more appealing than it did before it closed on you.

      And then you (or really more accurately, I) angst about whether you should have gone through it. Although, most of the time, the answer will end up being “No, because if you should have, you would have.”

      But I think all those open doors sometimes create a low-level “buzz” of distraction. They’re “open loops.” So intentionally closing some can sometimes free up a little mental hard drive space.

      Reply

  5. ·

    I've been pondering this sentence:

    “I’ve realized that when you try too hard to keep everything open-ended, you end up letting doors close behind you by accident, as opposed to choosing which ones to walk away from.”

    I'm a pretty big fan of going with the flow, and it's generally worked pretty well for me. But I'm also pretty bad at actually making decisions … I prefer to have a roomful of open doors around me at all times, so that I can decide on the spur of the moment which one(s) to walk through.

    But I hadn't really thought much about the way that doors close accidentally. Thanks for awakening a new little bit of my consciousness!

    Reply

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