Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Personal Perspective: The Best-Laid Plans

Things don't always go as you plan.

For instance, I planned on working while I was on "vacation." A professor once said there was no such thing as a vacation for a full-time freelancer, because everything is an opportunity to discover new writing topics. I took that seriously. So, for our two-week trip to see my husband's family in Buffalo, I took along my novel hard copy, my general-purpose notebook, my note-taking notepad, my journal, my laptop, my USB cord and my flash drive. I had visions of Internet connections in hotel rooms and friendly libraries. I pictured myself saying, "No, I really can't watch the movie, I have work to do," with firm conviction. I imagined side trips to discover new and interesting topics for magazine articles.

I might as well have spared my car the extra load.

With three twelve-hour driving days in each direction (yes, that equals SIX days on the road, just like the song), a toddler, normal in-law craziness, a jam-packed activity schedule and time-zone lag (yes, it happens even without jets), it was all I could do to keep from blowing my lid.

I did make it back to Oregon on schedule. That left me back on track to drive to Milton-Freewater and shoot some photos for an article I'm trying to sell. It was a wonderful day, with a more relaxed drive than I've had in recent memory, a fascinating conversation and the chance to sit through a free folk concert. I planned to give myself the following, and last, day off, and get back to it full force on Monday.

Then I came home and came down with a cold.

The speed and severity of the onset were for the record books. Got home from Milton-Freewater: fine. Three hours later: sniffles that had nothing to do with the movie I was watching.

Again my plans were laid aside as I spent the next several days getting over a pretty nasty cold. Here it is, Wednesday, and I'm only just beginning to form coherent thoughts that don't involve Kleenex.

And, you know what? There weren't fifty phone-message from editors who wanted that story only if they could have it three days ago. My clients weren't irate at the two-going-on-three-week setback in their project. No one shot themselves because one of my four blogs wasn't there for them to read. The gelato is still getting made. (Okay, so I had to don a dust mask and drag my diseased carcass into the kitchen to accomplish that, but who cares.)

The earth is still here, serenely spinning away.

Given the fuzzy nature of my thoughts right now, this blog post doesn't have a profound point. If it leaves me--and perhaps you--with one thought, though, it's that the world doesn't actually stop if we do. We (writers, women, mothers, humans) don't often give ourselves permission to hop off the hamster wheel and actually sit still. If we push it long enough, though, God and nature will force downtime upon us. It may not be as we would have envisioned...or planned...or preferred...but it will happen.

So, don't be afraid to take a bit of hiatus before you've reached that breaking point. If your best-laid plans are anything like mine, the globe will still be twirling when you get back.


Mark Weber said...

Very nice writing!

Cynthia said...

Amen, sista! ...I think you just explained my 3-hour power nap on Saturday afternoon. It was as if my body just said, "Stop right there!" Thanks for sharing!

Andrea said...

Thanks, peeps! I'm always amazed at the blog posts that strike chords with people. but I guess keeping too busy is a common plight in all of Western civilization.