When the garden is planted in the spring I get antsy in my pantsy. I want crops. Now. Or better yet yesterday. The seeds are planted, watered and receiving adequate sunlight. Then I wait…and hope…and second guess whether I planted too early or late, and consider whether I arranged the garden to achieve maximum productivity.
I don’t actually make anything grow. I haven’t figured that one out yet. It’s above my pay grade. What I have figured out is that sometimes patience and time are the most important elements in a garden. There is a point where more water or more sunlight becomes detrimental, and the most beneficial thing is for the garden and me to just chill out. This year, despite my best efforts, the tomatoes did just fine.
I will be happy when...I get this or that thing. If only this relationship were different. If only I had this car or house or yacht or job or prestige or influence or…then I would be happy. Each of us has our own seemingly endless list designed to ensure our happiness should we somehow attain what is on it. The problem is not what happens when we don’t get what we want; the problem is what happens when we do get what we want. Often what we hope will bring us happiness becomes an object of contempt because it fails to bring us the happiness it promised, or rather the happiness we promised ourselves should we obtain it. Rather than enjoying these things in their rightful place, we place upon them the burden of making us happy--a burden they were never meant to carry. Freeing these people and things from the burden of securing our happiness has the surprising effect of enabling us to truly enjoy them. What or whom have you burdened with ensuring your happiness?
How many of us have had plans shattered by a metaphorical punch in the mouth? We come up with plans for a career, a house, or a relationship, only to find ourselves lying on our backs looking up into lights, having been flattened by a haymaker. The punch in the mouth may take the form of an illness, loss of a job, loss of a loved one or many smaller challenges that result in the same sore jaw. Whatever form the punch takes, it comes unexpectedly and sends us reeling. A few nights ago I was watching a boxing match. The commentators were discussing the game plan one of the boxers had leading up to the fight. The fighter's plan had been solid but he was losing the fight. One of the commentators quoted Mike Tyson saying “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” One needn't look far to notice some parallels to life outside the ring.
I think plans are a good thing. They help us identify goals and establish strategies for success. Sometimes unpredictable circumstances make us question whether the plan we made was sound. Our confidence is shaken and we are wondering whether it was a bad plan from the beginning or a good plan requiring exceptional discipline. We can do two things with our plans after we get punched in the mouth. Option 1: Stick with the plan. Option 2: Come up with a new one. Both options require courage and wisdom. Wisdom is necessary because sometimes our plans just aren't that great. Stubbornly sticking to a bad plan will lead nowhere. Courage is required to change course. On the other hand, sometimes good plans meet great resistance. It is wisdom that enables us to trust in a good plan and courage that empowers us to persevere.
If you decide to alter your plan, may you have the wisdom to adopt a better plan. If you decide to stick with the original plan may you have the courage and confidence to endure. Whether you decide to stick with the first plan or create a new one, may you find the strength to pick yourself up from the mat and keep fighting. Sooner or later we all get punched. What will come of your plan?