Vail Daily column: Scrapping your best-laid plans
The source of that echoing, knocking, pulsating sound is difficult to triangulate. If overindulgence was the theme of your year-end bacchanal, then it is probably your hangover kindly reminding you, for the second day in a row, that is imprudent to chase champagne with a stranger’s promises and a bag of Twizzlers. If, in a fit of what seemed like maturity, you declined to brave the hordes in favor of a quiet night and a glass of port, that tapping is your inner child, impatient to be let out again. If you ended your 2016 trying to cram in one last piece of work, one last project, a last chance at success, then that ticking is probably your heart providing a warning about an imminent myocardial infarction. Regardless of your intentions, trusting your plan over your instinct or your better sense did not work out as intended. As we roll into another year of fortunate existence, consider the power of the immediate over the predetermined: consign your plans to the scrap heap.
As a student, I was repeatedly encouraged to craft an outline of my writing assignments prior to beginning work. I chafed under this requirement, felt overly confined by the shackles of such a clinical approach. I preferred, and flourished within, the wider vantage of extemporaneous experimentation. For me, the words held the most power when they were surprises, as new to my brain as to the page. Even though writing was and is an endeavor full of mental toil and sometimes anguish, the excitement of inner discovery offsets those travails.
Of course, it is much easier to surrender to the flow in an artistic milieu than in a vocation that necessarily requires more precision. A builder cannot show up to a homesite with a truck full of materials and just start banging them together as his whim dictates. But even within the framework of architectural plans and geotechnical engineering guidelines, there is room for improvisation, for finding elegant solutions on the fly when problems inevitably arise.
Travel is an arena that torments those who cannot adapt from their initial itinerary. It is an undertaking that can brightly illuminate the folly of planning. A delayed flight, a broken bus axle, the outbreak of war, an outdated map, being robbed at gunpoint, none of these could have been foreseen. When these eventualities come to pass, and they will, a choice is presented. One can either curse the stars, the airlines, the travel agent or else one can embrace the detour. Only one of these options will have a positive outcome.
Waylaid by a massive theft in South Africa, our plans immediately engulfed in the flames of misfortune, my wife and I could have despaired. But, after our initial tears had dried, we altered our course and were massively rewarded. We met friends we would not otherwise have met, learned how to surf, had amazing adventures in places that we did not even know existed. If our plans would have made us moderately happy, then the lack of plans made us beyond ecstatic.
When your attention is singularly focused on the path that you have chosen, better, more interesting journeys are either missed or ignored. While I do not regret following the course that I first charted as a middle-schooler, my myopic dedication to the legal profession certainly foreclosed other opportunities. Fortunately, I have since learned to keep my eyes peeled for scenarios that were not originally in my mind’s eye. The formation of RKV Law was not something that I ever planned to do. But, there was an opening and it was seized.
With apologies to those whose faiths are built upon the premise, I have never given shrift to predestination. If my fate is laid out before me, holds me in lockstep, then what is the point of the volition with which I have been gifted. This is not to say that you should wander the earth, aimless. A general trajectory, some loosely defined goals, and the confidence to completely ignore these waypoints are the only tools that you need to successfully navigate the geography of life.
Tradition dictates that now is the time when we form a blueprint for the ensuing 365 days. We trick ourselves into believing that we can subjugate life to our desires or that we can prognosticate outcomes and align ourselves accordingly. If 2016 taught us anything, then it is that we know very little. Instead of remaining rigidly committed to our chosen avenue, we must relax our bodies and minds, rendering them limber enough to absorb unexpected shocks while still keeping our smiles intact. That is the only way to ensure a happy new year.
T.J. Voboril is a partner at Reynolds, Kalamaya & Voboril, LLC, a local law firm, and the owner and mediator at Voice of Reason Dispute Resolution. For more information, please contact Voboril at 970-306-6456, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.rkvlaw.com.