In an effort to get back to the basics of my philosophy of life, I am re-using a quote from Abraham-Hicks about planning:
Not everything has to turn out exactly the way you planned in order for you to call it a success. — Abraham-Hicks
I use this quote as a tag for the end of emails I send out — I love that other people see it, but mostly, it is there for me to review every day.
From childhood, I lived in a world of plans. We plan to go camping, I plan to graduate in the top of my class, I plan to marry after college. I plan to assert better control over my health, I plan to lower my blood sugars. I plan to exercise. I plan to be happy. Each one of these goals involved serious, intricate preparation; nevertheless, my life rarely progressed toward my goals.
Take, for instance, the one about marriage. When I went to college, in the fall of 1978, I felt charged — energized. I attended the School of Music at the University of Maine at Orono. I brought that enthusiasm to my classes, at first, but shortly I got bored. Still, I wanted that Bachelor of Arts in Music, so I stuck with the program through the first semester. After Christmas break, I returned to find a new class on my docket — private lessons on the French Horn, my instrument of choice. I couldn’t wait to show the professor how good I was.
My first private lesson provided opportunity for the professor to evaluate my skill and technique. When I finished playing, I prepared myself for the kind of praise I had been given all through high school. Instead, the professor, who played first-horn in the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, began with my posture, the way I held the horn, my breathing techniques, the way I placed the mouthpiece on my lips — his every observation cemented my resentment, and at the end of the lesson, he told me that we would be starting from scratch to teach me the right way to play the horn.
Did I respond? Well, yes, I suppose putting down this instrument that I loved for the next 20 years a response. Obviously, the evaluation didn’t go the way I planned, and truly, I was incapable of accepting the professor’s input and buckling down to learn from him. I played that French Horn since the 7th grade, and no one could tell me I needed to work, because I slid by all through junior high and high school on natural talent. When that first lesson didn’t go as I planned, I saw it as a complete failure, and immediately quit. My goal since the 7th grade was to play Horn in a Symphony Orchestra. But my plan didn’t include any actual work to achieve my goal.
I left college in the middle of my sophomore year to marry the first man who proposed to me, though I allowed him to slip by without actually proposing. In fact, I never got a serious proposal of marriage from any of my three (now-ex-) husbands. I married each of them with the desire to change something about them to suit my wishes. We all know, or if we don’t, we should, that beginning a relationship with the desire to change one’s partner is a foolproof recipe for failure. I spent the next twenty years in and out of marriages, each one immediately following the last.
My original plan for marriage included a successful, monogamous union of two people who were perfectly matched. Failure to achieve that goal didn’t remove this expectation from my heart and mind, but rather gave me reason to adapt my plan: Marriage would include a successful relationship between me, and whoever I can change to be the most like me. I failed miserably once again, but rather than accept my responsibility for my half of the relationship, I found a way to blame the other for our loss.
So far, these examples don’t offer any support at all of Abraham’s statement above. I was stuck, though, in that pattern of planning and being disappointed, ( a word about which I will write a whole post, soon.)
Then, out of the blue, arose the idea of self-forgiveness. A hard process, as by then, at age 49, I possessed an entire lifetime full of expectations. When I finally realized how wrong-headed those responses were, I saw a clear path to self-forgiveness, self-acceptance and a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive.
Life’s events usually include , plans. No escaping that. Where I ran into problems, (and I still do, sometimes,) is by being inflexible, un-malleable. By doing so, I cut myself off from the process of accepting life as it comes, and appreciating the uncountable ways our plans and goals can twist and turn, and still be important lessons, or positive input into our lives. I am now far less likely to box myself into corners by holding myself, or others, to a rigid standard of what I believe is right. Instead, I do my very best to hold myself open to all of the little changes that make goals more exciting, and make the process of life a joy.