Wednesday, 21 July 2010

About Planning

A combination of talking to a friend and reading this posting of another friend has made me want to write about planning.

Now, those of you who know me in real life can probably testify to the fact that I am, generally, rather well-organized in my private life as well as at work; I usually am punctual when I agree to meet someone at a specific time, I travel lightly and in a rather neat and tidy manner, and I get my tasks done at work and at home efficiently.

And yet, it may surprise you to read that I am rarely planning anything. On the contrary, there is quite a lot of spontaneous activity going on in my life; more often than not, I agree to last-minute suggestions from friends to join them for a walk, go to a party, attend a concert or go to the cinema together.

This is of course possible because the only responsibility I have at home is to make sure that the cat is fed; other than that, it is entirely up to me what I do in my spare time. And so, I am (so to speak) "available" at the drop of a hat, really quite enjoying the entertaining surprises this life style offers.

Ever since my husband died last year, I have become careless in many ways. Work, for instance, has taken a back seat; not that I do not do my job properly anymore, but it is not as high up on my list of priorities as it once was. It is necessary for two reasons only: to give my days and weeks structure (which was particularly important during the first weeks after Steve's death) and to pay the bills.
These days, I often have so many things I want to do, places I wish to go to and people I'd like to meet that I wonder how I can fit work in with all these activities.

The carelessness involves other aspects which I am not going to specify further; suffice to say that I am now given to adventures a lot more than I used to be, and the curiosity I have always had has made me gain access to new and sometimes truly marvellous experiences.

When, a week or so ago, I was talking to a friend I had not seen in a long time, she told me that she'd given up on planning the usual day-to-day matters and that she felt so much better for it, with a lot of self-created pressure and stress gone. She has two children, her husband and her work to take into consideration, and she says everything is going so much more smoothly, now that the planning has stopped and a mixture of flexibility and spontaneity has taken its place.

I couldn't but agree with her, and we both found that some people in our respective circle of friends, relatives and acquaintances simply can not understand why and how we do this (or, rather, NOT do this anymore).

For instance, a friend who lives practically at the other end of the country mentioned he was possibly going to be in my town the next weekend, and as he is one of the most uncomplicated and easygoing people I know, I offered my spare room as his base camp. We had specified neither date nor time of when he'd be here, and I honestly didn't care - the room is there all the time anyway, no matter if someone needs a bed for the night or not, and I knew he'd be in touch if and when it was necessary.
So, not hearing from him simply meant he would not be here, and that was that.
Someone else I had this possible visit mentioned to kept asking me for days whether and when this friend was coming, and I always had the same answer: I didn't know, and it didn't matter. Maybe at some stage I sounded more irritated by the repeated question than I actually was (I wasn't - I just did not understand the need for asking something I would certainly and willingly have told anyway if I had known it myself), because we almost got a bit scratchy with each other at some stage. Anyway, we did not get into a serious fight about this, and I do hope that my seemingly irritated response was forgiven and not taken personally, as it was never meant to be.

Of course, there are things in life that need a certain amount of planning, such as travelling. Wanting to get from A to B usually means one has to plan a time and date, book a ticket, and then plan getting up and other things on the day in a manner to fit the schedule one has no influence on.
Also, when I expect guests I wish to prepare a meal for, I need to think about what to serve in advance and get the shopping done in time, as there is never much food about in my typical single-woman-with-cat household.
I am not exempt from this type of planning and have absolutely no trouble in sticking to it, but I do hope that, with this blog post, some people understand some things about me just a little better.

Thank you :-)


  1. Planning can also mean "Vorfreude", at least it is to me. Especially when I am planning holidays with a nice person... ;-)

  2. Oh yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you on that one :-)
    For instance, I have been planning in my head the meal I am going to cook tonight for a nice man who will be taking me to the ballet. That is certainly something to look forward to!

  3. Well, they do say that anticipation is greater than realisation, or rather, that seems to be one of my mum's more dispiriting sayings that I remember from my formative youth.

    It always seems a bit strange to me, this looking forward to something. On the one hand, I find it difficult to be happy if I don't have something at least in the medium term to look forward to. But conversely, it seems that to look forward all year to a week's holiday is oddly perverse: To spend 52 weeks anticipating one single week appears to have a judgment built in regarding the value of time and how we spend it. I must think some more on this.

  4. Indeed, what you describe - spending almost all year anticipating a short holiday - is perverse. And as for anticipation being greater than realisation - in German the saying goes "Vorfreude ist die schönste Freude" - is certainly true sometimes, but not always. On the contrary, some of the adventures I had this year were maybe particularly marvellous BECAUSE I had not anticipated them at all.

    Yes, I will do some more thinking on this subject, too.