“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”~Lao Tzu.
I have always been a cautious, careful kind of a person. There were several reasons why I didn’t care much for horoscopes and astrology when I was young. One of them was because of the description of a Capricorn: practical, serious, hardworking. How boring! Why couldn’t the person born under that sign be carefree, adventurous, a risk-taker? The things that determine our personality are still subject to debate. Are you a joker just like your grandfather? Or are you scared of change because of the way you were raised? Or is it because of the location of the stars at the date and time of your birth?
For whatever reason I started out being that practical, serious person. It always took the influence of others to have me acting in a more spontaneous way. But some of the best times I have had have come without careful thought, without measuring and comparing outcomes. At the same time of my life when I thought of myself as that steady and sober individual, I somehow arrived in Miami aged 22, unsure of my future, yet here I am almost four decades and four children later!
When you allow for unexpected twists and turns, you allow possibilities to open up to you. In the last few months before I left England after nursing school, I had (I thought) exhausted all of my possibilities of going to live in the USA to be with my boyfriend. But my last assignment was in a maternity hospital. There I met a nurse who was working there because she was recovering from hip replacement surgery. It was not her usual area. Somehow the subject of Miami came up in conversation. She told me a story of traveling with her husband and children on a yacht many years before. They were planning to sail around the world but ran out of money by the time they reached Miami. So she, being a nurse, hopped off the yacht and found work at the old Cedars of Lebanon. She had maintained friendship with some of the people she met then, and provided me with names and numbers, people who would put me in touch with people. Sure enough, those were the leads that provided me with jobs, with sponsored employment. And a life, a family, and many more adventures.
So perhaps I am more of a risk-taker than I thought. There is a character in a science fiction book who describes his style of navigation as Zen-like. Whenever he needed to go somewhere that he wasn’t sure of the route, he would look for someone who looked like they knew where they were going and follow them! The author, Douglas Adams, had a similar approach to life: “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” When we are open to possibilities, instead of overthinking all of the potential problems, then life itself opens up to us.
I once went to a fund-raising party. The hostess had taken great pains and spared no expense: her pool had been covered; tables and chairs filled the area; hired caterers were ready to serve food and drinks; music filled the air. Unfortunately, the guests (initially) were few. I fretted for her. All this expense, what if people don’t show up? How will she raise any money? When I suggested to her that she must be feeling nervous her response surprised me. “We have food, we have drinks, we have music. We’ll have a good time!” Of course eventually the trickle turned into a crowd, and it was a success.
I have tried to copy that attitude, although the nervous planner in me still drowns out that carefree spirit at times. When more is at stake than just having a good time, it is natural to want some security, some degree of confidence that things will work out according to plan. Yet they say that if you want to see God laugh, tell him you have a plan! Mother Nature frequently reminds us that she is in charge, sending hurricanes zig-zagging through the Gulf of Mexico. We live in South Florida, and plan our annual big fund-raising series of events over Labor Day weekend every year. At the height of hurricane season! Yet hurricanes can end up in New Jersey in October! There are few guarantees when it comes to planning around Mother Nature.
As in all things, the secret is in balancing, trying to plan for all eventualities, yet knowing that something unexpected will arise, and enjoying it when it does. So this weekend, as we hope that turnout will be good, that we will make enough money to help as many children at school in Jamaica as possible, we are aware that it can always go either way. And the secret is to be open to the possibilities. What we know is that nothing is promised, there are no guarantees, so we will eat, drink, dance, make merry, and hopefully raise the needed funds along the way.
May you have a wonderful weekend, Family! I know I will! And may you enjoy your journey through life, without worrying too much about the destination!