I like to plan.
I’m a great planner, a presidential planner. I have an app called Omnifocus that agendifies every area of my life. Until recently, reminders in this apps included things like, “Call Mom,” or “Phone out of town friend,” lest I forgot to feel my beating heart while navigating my labyrinthine to-do list.
Planning makes me feel safe. Bestows the illusion of control. And gives birth to little babies called Expectations.
Like little Cabbage Patch Kids, these expectations pop into existence just after the planning starts. And they’re so darn cute. They run here and there, giggling, shaking their nicely braided yarn hair. But then all of a sudden, these little happy toddlers turn into pint-sized tyrants. They pout when the plan doesn’t go their way, throw tantrums when they’re disappointed. When thwarted, they stamp their feet, blubber uncontrollably, and glare in frustration.
My expectations, once sweet and full of possibility, have turned into the Garbage Pail Kids.
These Garbage Pail Kids recently threw a wrench in my romance. A golden beginning to the relationship had fostered warm feelings. Hopeful dreams ensued. Almost without realizing it, I grew a Plan like a scaffold beneath the shimmering surface of my ideas, and strapped my dream down onto its iron framework. My plan was surely the right way. Diversions from the plan felt like betrayal, rejection. When my my partner finally threw up his hands in protestation, I was hurt, bewildered, and angry.
I confused my “Plan” with my “Vision.”
Life is a co-creation with the Universe. While we control our own piece of it, the world out there is full of mystery and moving parts. We see this dance most clearly when we are co-creating with other people, like a partner. When I am excited about to getting to my “goal,” I can put on blinders that prevent me from seeing anything except the road I’ve designed. I only see what I want, forgetting that other people are creating this wild big dream with me.
But by being so attached to my expectations, I miss the unexpected opportunities that are lying in my peripheral vision. Relationships can remind us that we are part of something bigger, help us to discern what is ours to own and what isn’t. They can help us look beyond our limited expectations, and take in some of the other points of view that make up the world. If we’re staring at the closed door, we may miss the fact that five windows have opened behind us.
The invitation: dream without being stuck to the plan. Raise our eyes from our expectations and see the great possibilities that are really there. Be surprised.
Because what if, just what if…this mysterious co-creation is could manifest a future that’s even better than the one that we’ve got in our heads?