To Plan or Not to Plan; Does it Really Matter?

Dirt road

Dirt road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A week ago I went hiking with some friends, who I’ve known for quite some time now. Or at the very least I had tried to go hiking with some friends of mine. Our plans backfired pretty miserably. We left late, drove hours on end to get out to this lovely little forest reserve we found out about… only to get rained out. Now believe me when I saw that I don’t mean that we gave up at the first sign of a little shower, because we were pretty dead set on hiking. By rained out I mean, that we spent twenty minutes trying not to hydroplane on secluded little dirt roads, and by the time we got back to the main road we decided that hiking probably wasn’t’ such a good idea anymore.

So we drove back into town and bunked down into this lovely Mexican food restaurant, and tried to re-plan our day. This, involved going to a local museum we’d found reviews for online, while munching on tortilla chips. Once the rain settled, and the roads were so muddy there’d be no hope of us retracing our original plans, we set out to find this newest attraction… only to find out that it didn’t actually exist. Like, at all, we found where it was supposed to be, and there simply wasn’t a building there!

Now at this point we were all pretty sick of the town, and a few of us were upset about the day as a whole, and from there we could have given up and gone home and complained about everything later. We didn’t though, well, we did all drive back home, but we replaced the complaining bit with some antiquing downtown, something else we’ve all been wanting to do together for a while.

The point of me writing all this out isn’t just to tell you guys about this one crazy day I had, but to try and express my thoughts on planning. Because, here’s the thing: planning is a good thing, but it also isn’t everything. If we hadn’t tried to schedule and prep, my friends and I never would have gotten the chance to see each other at all. There are just too many of us, leading our own separately busy lives. But the plan isn’t everything, because the thing about plans is, that more often than not they fall apart at a touch. Plans are good for kicking things in motion, but you can’t live your life off a plan, because at some point that plan isn’t going to be their anymore and you’re just going to have to try to wing it.

Which is something I tend to look for in any good character, whether it’s one I’m writing or reading about. If they don’t plan, they’re inactive, they’re waiting for things to just happen to them, and that’s pretty boring. But if all they do ever is stick to the plan, then they can’t adapt when things start to get rough for them, and things will always start to get rough. So there you have it, plans fall apart, in real life and in fiction, and though they can be great little climactic moments, you can’t let yourself get too hung up on them, you have to move past them and just try to make the most of what’s left.

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