Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Learning to Meander

"The sun did not shine,
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
On that cold, cold wet day."

Dr. Seuss may have written those words sixty-something years ago, but they were so true that day just as this month was beginning.  The kids were cranky.  I was cranky.  And worst of all, I knew the Cat in the Hat wasn't going to show up.

"Let's DO something," Jayna groaned.  "Anything.  I don't care what we do, I just want to get out and do it."

"Yeah, but it's raining," I said.

"I don't care!  I'm just sick of sitting around."

I knew exactly what she meant.  With a deep sigh, I hauled myself up out of my cozy spot and put on my boots and tried to find the kids' rain and cold-weather attire.  That alone induced enough bickering and complexity to just about make me give up and return to my place on the couch.  By all appearances, this had bad idea written all over it.  But I pushed us (minus Skyler, who had other plans for the day) out the door and to the subway station.  We ended up in a neighborhood we've explored a little before, but somehow took a wrong turn and found ourselves wandering through a maze of giant apartment buildings.

"Never mind, this was a bad idea," Jayna said -- a few times.  But I found I was actually enjoying the cold, rainy breeze and the walk.  So we stuck it out.  Then, just as even I was about to give up and head home, I recognized where we were.  And as we explored a little more, we found breathtaking views and cafes.  
We walked through a quiet forest that felt so far from civilization -- even though it was actually taking us a few hundred meters off the road to the "best spot to take photos".
And then we tucked into a cozy booth in a cafe, with hot chocolate and milk tea to revive us for the walk home.  

Once home, tired and soaked to the bone, we found we had the biggest smiles.  It felt like we'd had a most extraordinary day -- exactly what I needed.  You see, as 2017 began, I was feeling daunted by the fact that I don't have a plan for this year.  On social media, it seemed that everyone was posting inspiring quotes about how success happens with a good plan or showing pictures of their planners with everything apparently neatly scheduled for the year.  And I... I didn't really know what to say besides, "How the heck do you do that?!"   

did a lot of changing plans  last year, and while there was definitely value in that, there was also this feeling I had by December that maybe I just shouldn't even bother planning anything.  I mean, where I was on December 31, 2016 was so far beyond what I'd imagined on January 1.  I've wrestled with moments of bitterness at "what I gave up", even though most of those things were just ideas, just "plans." 

On the first of this year, I confided to Matt my fear and frustration -- that I couldn't plan anything for my life. Not this year, not ever.  He looked at me square in the eye and said, "If that's how you feel, then don't plan anything."  Like... duh.  I was actually speechless; could it be that simple?  But I couldn't let go of  this fear that if I didn't plan anything, well... nothing would happen.  I would accomplish nothing.  I would succeed at nothing.  You might as well stamp my forehead with the words "Cautionary Tale" right now.

But that rainy day a few days later reminded me that there is a value in learning to meander.  So much so that we headed out the next day without any plan except to go the opposite direction on the subway.  

  And it was another lovely day -- quite different, but still great (and sweetened with a cafe stop at the end.  What can I say?  Koreans do cafes very well.)

Maybe it's crazy and uninspiring to say this, but I think there are times in life when we have to let go of 1-year or 5-year plans, the blueprints, the maps.... and just kind of see where the road takes us.  Then on the way, stop and look around.  It might be just the view you were hoping for.


  1. YOU are an amazing writer! Thank you for this. I have read in several sacred texts words to the effect of: "It is not the endpoint but the journey that is important. Pay attention!" And yet we don't. We rush around with our goals and our deadlines, and feel like we are never going to finish.
    Thank you, this was wonderful. mb

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words!! And I love that quote, too!


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