“Life happens while we’re making other plans”,
“The best laid plans of mice and men go awry”.
Why does life so often sidetrack our plans? Do we not understand how the world works? Are our plans just wishful thinking? Is the human world so out of whack that any rational attempt to navigate through it can only succeed by accident?
Did we miss the memo that would have explained everything? I have to admit that for many years I suspected I had been locked out of the clubhouse for people in-the-know.
But over time my view has changed. I have begun to see my fellow beings more clearly; to recognize that so many—humans and animals alike—are neither free nor happy.
So what about all those intentions that we once imagined would guide us? Were our dreams merely misunderstandings of our true status as individuals: one among billions, confined to our own narrow point of view?
But plans do play a role, similar to that of a spinal column in vertebrate creatures. Just as a spinal column organizes and coordinates the 30 billion cells in a human body, plans provide a rudder for us to navigate through our ever-changing environment.
But what are we to do when it is not just our outer environment that is changing, when we are tossed around by our own moods and attitudes, like a ship floundering at sea? When, like the captain of a storm-tossed ship, we can’t see a foot in front of our face? Of what use will our plans and flawed notions of how the world works be then?.
That’s when we will be glad to have a vision that sees beyond our individual concerns. The advantage of considering the needs of others is not just a moral code, for which we will be rewarded now or later. Viewing our individual life as part of a greater life–just as billions of cells are each part of our body—allows us to experience greater freedom and fulfillment right now. To see ourselves as a wave running across the vast expanse of the ocean, which is present in each and every drop of water, is to be absolved of having to control what we have never been able to control.
Just imagine. What if all the stories and parables are true? What if we just have to relax in this moment and let the heartbeat of time and the wing-stroke of space carry us along? Like a hawk coasting on the high winds, like a dolphin diving in the ocean swell, like a human being asking, “What can I do to help carry the weight of this world a few more miles?”