Not long ago I was asked to provide a "five word bio" to the woman introducing me at a book signing. This is a tough exercise on a number of levels (go ahead, try it, I dare ya). My first couple of tries sounded like laundry lists of my occupations, attributes, or interests...*yawn*... Finally I happened upon a string of words that actually reflects my life:
Happy Accidents Trump Best-Laid Plans
(Okay, maybe I cheated a little...but "best-laid" counts as a one word adjective, right?)
I make plans all the time-- I daydream about them, think out detailed scenarios-- but they never come true. Instead, the best parts of my life have been the results of happy accidents. Like the time I sort of forgot to apply to college, then ended up at the perfect school for me (rather than the one I really wanted). Or all those friends who just happened to cross my path throughout the years, and became essential parts of my life. Or the times I backed into a job as an artist, or wound up living in Oakland, or had a baby -- my son was my happiest accident of all.
When I look back over the years, all the best moments of my life have been serendipitous. The stars aligned and the moon was on board and all was set for a perfect confluence of people and place and events....all completely unplanned, and unpredictable. Luscious.
Conversely, when I try to make things perfect, they slip and slide until they escape from my controlling hands...and they tend to wind up mundane and mediocre.
Also, I have found that there's very little use in trying to plan for unhappy accidents. Other than setting a little money aside, and making sure you have some friends to lean on, you can't really plan for the bad stuff.
Are you all familiar with the graduation speech (later made into a song) called Wear Sunscreen by Mary Schmich? The whole thing's great, but this is one of my favorite parts:
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
So roll with it, trusting that life will throw out some doozies from time to time...and learn to love the unpredictability of it all. If nothing else, it's sure to make a good story.