New footbridge on the farm.
I’m a planner. I like to think about what is next, what is in the future. I like to organize, sifting through all the possibilities, and come up with the perfect agenda, menu or most efficient method. Then I expect it all to go perfectly—because it is all so perfectly planned. But, I don’t know if you noticed, lately things don’t always go as planned. I had three perfectly planned trips this spring. One by one I clicked the cancel button on the reservations. As the days of spring rolled on, I would sometimes think, “I’m supposed to be in Taos for my birthday”, or “today I was going to be in Santa Barbara graduating”. But strangely it was all OK. I missed what I had planned but I also was enjoying what I was already doing. I was enjoying the unexpected, the serendipity of life.
Although we all know that life is unsure and the unexpected can always happen, in our modern world we have come to make assumptions about what life will be like in the future. I assume that things will go along as I planned and how I wanted them to go. I think we are all learning that we can no longer make assumptions about our future but can only live/lean into the future. I don’t think my planning ways are going to change anytime soon but I will be more open to the variables that life brings and let go of my plans more easily.
Strangely the best things in my life are things I didn’t plan, wasn’t looking for, or didn’t want. The best things have come when I was just following a hunch or synchronicity. I think the most important part of pilgrimaging into the future is to hold life loosely and allow dreams you didn’t know how to dream to move in and let life surprise you, delight and move you in a direction outside of your plans.
Our modern world loves to plan: a 5-year plan, a career plan, a family plan, a retirement plan. All of that is good until our soul decides it doesn’t like that plan and begins its own agenda. We have to set aside our desires and open to that bigger agenda. For the next bit of life—and we can’t even begin to plan what that will be—we can let our souls guide our pilgrimage to the heart and where we need to go. Our old plans are gone, and space has opened for something new. So, for the time being I will indulge in some planning but know that my soul might dream of something else and serendipity will guide the way. Hopefully with that agenda gone I will notice the little things, the taste of warm cherries, the smell of fresh laundry, the waxy feel of a magnolia blossom and know those simple joys are as important as exotic travel.
For the next bit of time, however long that is, choose something to explore deeply, an idea, writer, composer, moment of history, or the natural world. Pilgrimage to the heart of that place/space/thought and let it take over your mind and heart. See where you go and let the soul be the guide. For the quality of today’s step determines where our future steps go.
I’m featured on a podcast about life during the pandemic. Here is the link for Profile in Quarantine with host Mary Gilbert.