Life happens. This is one of those everlasting truths. We can set goals, and set about getting things done in a timely manner, but the reality is that life will interrupt us, more pressing matters will appear, and things will not go according to plan.
I learned this early on. I can’t think of a single family trip that didn’t include some sort of unexpected surprise. Car break-downs, flat tires, sick siblings…
The thing is, though we never anticipated those things (and perhaps found them to be a pain or headache at the time) the result was some amazing memories. I asked a few of my siblings, and my mom, which of these planned-trips-gone-wrong were their favorite.
From camping trips where homeless people came from the hills to try to steal beer from our car (awakening my older brother when they managed to get the keys to unlock the van, and probably giving themselves a bit of a scare), to being stranded in the Black Hills while pretty much everything that seemed like it could go wrong did go wrong.
It was no fun to go through that time, but now we look back and laugh at the story. Over lunch with my older brother the other day we reminisced on many such adventures, these experiences that shaped our childhoods.
Those adventures, never going quite the way we had planned, helped me to realize that life is what happens around the plans. It is noble to create goals, to set up plans, and to work hard to achieve those goals, but the reality is going to end up being something different. Inevitably something will come along which will throw all those plans away and you will have to make do with what you have. You have to change your goals to account for the life that is happening. It’s important to keep yourself open to go with the flow, and to know that how you come through the unexpected is what will shape the story that you end up telling down the road.