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“When you understand that it’s foolish to look for fire with fire, the meal is already cooked.” –Wumen

I came across this quote in puzzlement. What exactly is that supposed to mean? Then it struck me as very clever.

How many of us spend our lives setting goals? Big or small, real or imagined, we reach for attainment of a better life. Goals are individual, because we all have our own sense of what that better life entails.  But when do we reach it? After what goal do we finally reach satisfaction?

Goals can be a very strong and positive influence in life.  We attain confidence and success as we achieve them. Yet often these goals can also become a distraction from the life we are already living. We’re so concerned with getting to the next step, that we don’t realize the step we’re on. There will always be a next step, and a step after that. But none of these steps will lead anywhere greater than what we keep inside. We all have a fire within us, and it’s then that we realize the meal is already cooked.

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Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. –Eckhart Tolle

There are a lot of quotes on the past, the present and the future. It seems people are, in some form, always juggling the three.

There is the past, where all events and experiences shape us into who we are today.

Then there’s the future, for which we plan and prepare for.

And ultimately, you have the present…each ticking second that we’re in.  

I’d like to believe we can all find a way to live in the present. Enjoy each moment for which we have it. But factors from the past will always impact the present. And it’s true the future may never come… but what if it does?

That said, I think we can limit how much of the past and future we let into our lives. Take each moment for what it is. Stop dwelling on the past–we can’t change it. Stop worrying about the future–it doesn’t help. Instead, focus on the moments we’re in–it’s what we have.

Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like. –Lemony Snicket

Dinner at my parent’s house was never up for negotiation. “I’m not running a restaurant,” my mom used to say. “You’ll eat what we’re having.”

My parents made the best spaghetti. And stir-fry day was fabulous. But their meatloaf reminded me of cat food, and I was never too excited about green peas. Still…we ate what we were served.

As an adult, I can appreciate the different meals they made us. I had a healthy childhood with a variety of nutrients. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I didn’t…but I can’t imagine the health issues I’d have if they would have catered to my sweet childhood requests.

In a less simple sense, I wonder if fate doesn’t work the same way. Sometimes we’re happy with what we get, and sometimes we hate it. And sometimes we think we know what we want. But when looking back down the road, how often are we suprised with the way things had to happen?

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure. –Segal’s Law

My roommate always says how impressed and proud she is that I have a 4-year degree.  Now granted I’m happy about it and it wasn’t exactly easy, but I never really thought about doing anything else. It was always: First you graduate high school, then you go to college. For four years I took classes, got the necessary credits and followed the path to graduation.

The truth is, I think it’s after graduation that the hard part begins. Once the paved path to graduation is over, the world opens up. You no longer have a single, simple goal of finishing your degree. You’re just… done. So what do you do with your life? You make a lot of decisions, go down a lot of different paths and are never quite sure what the outcomes of the other decisions might have been. Sometimes, you’re never quite sure what time it is.

The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places. –Author Unknown

I use to have a room in the basement of a split-level house. Sometimes at night, I’d get settled on the couch upstairs watching a movie. By the time it was over, I was quite content to stay put. Of course, I always woke up in the morning curled in an awkward position with an uncomfortably stiff neck. Sure…it was good idea at the time.

Clearly this was a small and insignificant “parking place” in life, but only the beginning of many more to come. It can be so hard to get up and move on when you find yourself comfortable. Maybe you had your eyes on another prize, but why can’t you stop when you feel content?

Because eventually the morning will come and you’ll have wished you made the effort. I think parking places can be fun…like a scenic drive, exploring the view. But only if you’re capable of pushing yourself through when it’s time to keep moving.

My Minnesota guy

“The heart has reasons that reason does not understand.” — Jacques Benigne Bossuel

On paper, I had the perfect relationship: He was sweet, a hard worker, my family loved him. He was responsible and saved up to buy a house. We picked out all the furnishings. I had just graduated college and we had all the starts for a perfect life. I couldn’t complain…but I did. In my heart, I just wasn’t there. I loved him, but somewhere along the line I had to leave.

I’ve been in California for almost two years now. In and out of different relationships, I’ve worked and been frustrated over almost all of them. Sometimes, I think back to my Minnesota guy and wonder why I left him. And I wonder how I can care so much about guys now that don’t compare. Logical reasoning says it’s crazy. But for some reason I can’t explain, my heart just knows.

“If Beethoven had been killed in a plane crash at the age of 22, it would have changed the history of music… and of aviation.” –Tom Stoppard

The obvious, is that Beethoven was a musical genious. Robbed too early of his talent, who knows where music would be today. But then you think about how chain reactions can have such a monumental impact. And how the death of someone of importance would make a much bigger impact than someone unknown. And how a single failure and fear could have potentially halted one of the most progressive human developments of all time.

Clearly, this wasn’t the case…and thankfully so. But it’s interesting to wonder what could have happened. Even more interesting, is to think about similar situations that may have stopped us from developing and moving forward. Where have we stopped short due to fear or a single failure? Likewise, can we use this idea to keep pushing forward, even when we feel like we should give up?

Profile of Time

Profile of Time

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. –Salvador Dali (1904 – 1989)

It is said that Salvador Dali would hold a spoon above a plate just as he was about to sleep. As he began to doze off, the spoon would clatter onto the plate and wake him, allowing him to vividly recall the dreamy state between the conscious and unconscious.

Dali’s story was told to me in 8th grade Spanish class. While I can’t remember many of my bilingual skills, this lesson stuck. I found him facinating. I’m sure I’m not alone, as Dali is a world-famous artist. But the principles and ideas behind his work seem just as intriguing as his visual arts.

We all try so hard to live up to expectations. Whether they are our own expectations, or the expectations of our parents, our bosses, our friends or lovers. What if we pushed those aside and started following our own path? Dali’s method was radical and probably seemed a little crazy. But look what he was able to achieve. If we stop thinking about perfection and just took shots in the dark, who knows where we might land.

Four of the five girls I worked with at the club.

Four of the five girls I worked with at the club.

“The most decisive actions of our life – I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future – are, more often than not, unconsidered.”

–Andre Gide

An argument errupted outside of a Hollywood club last night, with around 20-30 people standing nearby. In a matter of seconds, a body hit the ground and flooded in a pool of blood. The next few moments were a blur as chaos ensued. When the six girls we came with with were safely together, we tried recounting the steps of the night. Who stabbed him? Where did they hit him? And what started it?

 All we could conclude was that it happened so fast. Helicopters and police cars were combing the area. Meanwhile, we learned the victim had a severed spinal cord and would be paralyzed if he even survived.  In that split moment of anger, lives have been changed immeasureably.

It’s strange to think about how many things we ponder over endlessly… what should I wear? What should we have for dinner? Where should we go out? Then in a split second, without a thought, the course of our future can be changed.

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