|Turn my ship around
March 31, 2020 -
And then, came a virus with a vengeance. You could hear doors slamming shut all across the planet. Lockdown.
Sudden change left our heads spinning and our hearts softened as we marched to war … the peoples of the earth fighting against something we couldn’t even see.
Uncertainty. Not knowing what’s coming our way is changing us, turning us back toward the basics, stripping away norms built up over the years of prosperity and gluttony … eating too much, buying too much, self-indulging too much. It’s like we have been sent to our rooms to contemplate our futures and think about what’s important.
My thoughts about a 5-year plan were caught on the edge of this tectonic shift. A plan implies that there is an X in the future that we want to arrive at or achieve. How can you plan for an X five years into the future, when you’re not even sure there is a future or what it might look like?
However, what we do now counts … it will create our future and who we become regardless of whether we’re in good times or in a totally disorienting pandemic. We can’t wait for calm waters to figure out how to handle our lifeboat in the middle of a raging sea.
The word plan doesn’t quite fit this during corona (DC) time. However, what should we call a set of possible actions or intentions chosen to take us to a different state of being? Thesaurus and I had a long discussion about words: pattern, picture, guideline? Nothing quite worked until I started asking questions:
Who am I?
Who do I want to be?
What’s important to me?
What are my gifts?
What can I give?
What do I want my days to be like?
How do I want to spend my time?
Suddenly, it was clear. QUESTIONS.
I don’t want a 5-year plan.
I want a 5-year question.
Whereas a plan is a fixed, step-by-step set of actions focused on an outcome; a question would be a living energy constantly refocusing me on my “one wild and precious life” and what I want it to be.
Plans take you to places the world recognizes as good: fame, fortune, accomplishment, recognition, a book published, a piece of artwork sold, a new title and bigger office, a spiffy car, an island hideaway, a marathon record, more followers on twitter. A question circles around our essence, inviting new layers into action, calling forth intentions that resonate with who we are, asking:
Assuming there is a future,
who do you want that future self to be?
Then, the logical me kicks into gear and asks: how will you measure success? What will be on your “to do” list? How will you know you’re making progress? How will you manage your time? How will the world know that you’re a good and successful person?
My head spins again as an old tune begins to play … “What’s it all about, Alfie?”
Is it “doing” or “being”? I know that’s the wrong question. As always, it’s both/and. We are living beings who do things. What we do is either a reflection of who we are, who we want to be, or a negation of that standard. If I know who I want to be, I can judge all my actions based on that criteria, asking: Is this action a reflection of who I want to be?
Searching for my 5-year question, I write:
What do I want in my life and who do I have to be in order to create that life?
It sounds good, but I’m not sure it’s THE question. see part 3