Years from now, when my hair is grey and my bones creaky, instead of a stack of journals that I’ve kept throughout my life, I will have a stack of planners. Agenda books stuffed with sticky notes and paper-clipped lists, pages filled with scratchy notes in shitty handwriting and a whole lot of circled appointments. Grocery lists will stick out sideways and “TO DO” lists written in all caps will outnumber the days on the calendars. So while other people might collect their lives in the form of photo albums or sketch books, mine will be preserved through my personal calendars. Because at the end of the day, I am who I am, and boy do I love to have a plan.
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When I was young, I had 20/20 vision. 20/10 actually, my eye doctor told me once with a proud smile. I used this fact as a party trick at family gatherings often. “I have perfect vision!” I would coo to my aunts and uncles, as if it was something I had earned rather than been given by chance and genetics. Even though there was a brief period in the fourth grade where I desperately wanted glasses of my own for the fashion of it all, I never needed them. I could sit in the back of the class and see the board. I could read for hours with no problem. And then I went to college and joined the newspaper. I voluntarily spent whole weekends staring at computer screens and tiny print (weird right?) and, eventually, my head started to ache in a pinchy way behind my eyeballs.
I went home for a weekend and paid a visit to my eye doctor just as a precaution. Sure enough, my party trick had dried up. I needed reading glasses. The doc wrote my prescription down and taught me a lesson all with one swipe of the pen: plans change.
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I am obsessed with the future. For someone who loves yoga, I’m not too great at living in the present, and my weeks are usually planned down to the hour well in advance. My friends, though they have gracefully refrained from saying so, probably hate me for it. There’s rarely a last minute change or a spontaneous night out with me. If you want to grab Panera on Friday, better let me know by Tuesday.
It’s not that I have an abundance of options and activites. I’m pretty boring, actually. But once something is written in my book, whether it’s “gym” or “napping” or “road trip,” it’s pretty much set in the stone that is my rigid mind. And this kind of thing isn’t just how I schedule dinner plans. I have a five-year plan. Goals that I need to hit, milestones whose details I am already sketching out in my head. I know I have a problem, but I can’t stop unless (like the great rapper Drake once said) life forces me to calm down.
God has a way of reminding us that sometimes not everything can go according to plan. I thought I would have perfect vision forever; He gave me glasses. I thought I would be an award-winning journalist; He gave me a job in public health (still grateful, big guy) and a fading passion. I dreamt about falling in love with a guy at my college; He sent me a beautiful boy from home who was simultaneously shaking up my world and blender cups full of smoothies at the same time.
But even knowing this, I keep planning. And scheduling. And crossing out and rescheduling. And juggling and squeezing and completing the to-do lists that are my life. I like it that way, and I probably always will, but in the back of my mind I know that the universe likely has something up its sleeve for me that I couldn’t even imagine right now. I know that one day, my eyesight might change again, my vision adjusting to a new but still good and still beautiful focus. I know that the best thing about a planner is that sometimes–no matter what great events you already have penciled in–life will hand you something wonderful to scrawl in the margins. Unexpected gifts from God.
I know you weren’t expecting this, but here you go. I promise it is meant for you. Enjoy.