This past week, I was fortunate to have been on holiday on a Covid-delayed trip to Belize. Travelling was different with mask and testing requirements, but it was nice to take some time to refresh and reflect. I was reading Wallace Stegman’s classic, Crossing to Safety and a line caught my attention. It said “Chaos is the law of nature; order is the dream of man”, his take on the old Yiddish proverb “We plan, God laughs.”
As much as I plan, things do end up very differently from how I imagined they would be. This is true for all aspects of life. As we entered this new century, who could have imagined that we would be so dependent on a little device that allowed us to contact people, get any information we need and navigate to wherever we needed to go. (Well, maybe Steve Jobs did.) I wonder how we got anything done efficiently before we had smart phones and laptops. I also thought in personal terms; about people I thought would be friends forever but now look more like passing acquaintances. The staff at the resort where we stayed were very good at reminding us to come back and “see us again” and this too made me think about all of those passing acquaintances over time who played a part in shaping the course of my life. It’s only when we have some time to reflect that we can begin to remember all of those people and experiences that impacted our lives.
We plan, God laughs. I spend my life helping people plan and I see planning as not so much a forecast about what’s to come but as a process for figuring out what I want out of life and a mechanism for dealing with change as chaos upends my plans. It’s a framework for course correction when things don’t go the way we intended. So keep planning and reflect every once in a while. Celebrate those things that have happened on your journey and honor all those who contributed along the way. I hope you have a nice Independence Day weekend.
This week’s selection is:
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
From Heller McAlpin’s review. Set in Stratford, England, in the late 16th century, Hamnet imagines the emotional, domestic, and artistic repercussions after the world's most famous (though never named) playwright and his wife lose their only son, 11-year-old Hamnet, to the bubonic plague in 1596. Four years later, the boy's father transposes his grief into his masterpiece — titled with a common variant of his son's name — in which the father dies and the son lives to avenge him.