One of my favorite sayings is, “We plan, God laughs.” Regardless of your religious beliefs, there is more than one lesson to take away from this aphorism. The reason I take so much delight in it is this: It encompasses the idea that our plans are subject to a whole host of external factors over which we have no control AND there’s an entirely different take-away. The Great Creator, All That Is, The Universe, The Higher Self, laughs.
The ultimate expression of joy is uttered by the entire universe over the concept that our finite selves attempt to control things – in a life where we are not even able to experience MOST of what is “out there.”
There is no mockery in this laughter. It is more like a parent laughing when their young child attempts something they are in no way capable of doing. There is delight in seeing the attempt – the journey a little one is taking from not knowing, to observing, to attempting, to mastering. While most of us are unable to locate precisely where (or what) our heart cockles are, nevertheless they warm as we watch the child trying to be like their role models (as long as said role model has not just let loose with a string of inappropriate words after dropping a hammer on their toes).
We plan, God laughs.
I am a person who doesn’t respond well to sudden changes in plan. Spontaneity in and of itself is not the problem. If I’m hanging out doing a lot of nothing on a Saturday and someone asks if I want to go for a walk, or go see a movie, this is well and good. However, if my plan was to go see a movie and then come home and deal with my laundry or spend some time working on some writing when suddenly my fellow movie-goer says, “That was fun! Want to go get lunch?” …This is now a different situation inside my brain and body. I’ve been thrown off track. I feel like I’m on the spot. My overthinking kicks into overdrive and I start to consider ridiculous and far-reaching implications of saying yes or no. My comfortable and predictable plan has been shaken.
This is only one way in which my plans can be derailed. Consider the past week for me. Over the course of an ordinary week, I plan to have my week’s post written by Sunday afternoon so that I can final edit on Monday and create and schedule my social media posts on Tuesday. Last week I got a cold. It was not an incapacitating illness that left me bed-ridden and wondering when I had last updated my will, just a common cold. Unfortunately, this particular cold went straight to my brain and made all my thinking fuzzy. Entire days slid by where I felt I had been on task and yet had nothing to show for it, nor any idea of what I had actually done. Plan, derailed.
Now, here I sit, at three in the afternoon on Tuesday, working on the Sunday portion of my week’s planned activities. I could let this throw me into a tail-spin. This is, in fact, one of the three main reactions I have when I find myself in a situation such as this. The second? I laugh. If Creation itself can take delight in my misadventures in planning, surely I can as well.
So often my own life has taken turnings that I would never have expected. Many of those times I was dissappointed, hurt, turned upside down and shaken. It’s not always easy or natural to laugh. Fortunately, I learned relatively early that “end of the world” happenings hardly ever herald the actual end of the world. In fact, my current tally of times the actual world has actually ended is zero. In every single one of those cases something good has come into my life. Sometimes that good was something intangible like the knowledge that I am capable of handling a true emergency. In my favorite instance (some day I’ll tell you the story), I met the love of my life.
I have lived through times in which laughter was not only unlikely but actually impossible. I find it fitting, then, that my third way of dealing with the collapse of “how things ought to be” is best described by one of my favorite, most humorous, and totally unpredictable authors, the late Douglas Adams.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” -Dirk Gently, né Svlad Cjelli, holistic detective, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul
Life happens. Planning can help us achieve our goals, build helpful routines, and be prepared for likely outcomes, but it is not possible to anticipate every possible scenario. By far, my favorite way to deal with these twists and turns is to laugh. Failing that, an underlying knowledge that I gain something from every circumstance helps me through the times when I tail-spin.
Brightest blessings, my friends. ~Sunny