Walking to the bend in the road
Where nothing is certain
I let go of my concern for tomorrow
And let the joy of today’s sunshine
Be the master of my experiences.
I have been reading and considering the question of how to be present in every moment and yet fulfill the requirement of modern living for activities like planning. In an instant, I realize that it is possible to plan and be present.
How do I do that? First, what is planning? Planning is an activity that attempts to give us a course of action in the future based upon what we know today and what we anticipate the future will bring. In its own definition, it is an effort that approaches something this is unknowable for it is truly impossible to know the future.
What we can do with planning is to see if the trajectory that we anticipate is one that we will find acceptable. We can also get a glimpse of actions that may help us prepare of the future. Not necessarily a specific future but one that is filled with any possibilities. Planning can bring to light areas of preparation such as learning needed or provisions to acquire or activities to engage that lead us in a particular direction
What is most important to remember about planning and being present is that a plan is only an approximate “road map”. We can use this to navigate, however, if we use it to be an absolute set of actions we follow, we have created a clear approach to live in the past. For the plan, once it is completed is a picture of how the future looks from the past. By following this picture as an absolute set of instructions we do not live in the present and we will always live less fully. For to live fully requires abandoning all plans in the present moment and looking anew at what life presents us and deciding anew how to act.
When I teach, I spend some time preparing myself for the upcoming event. Just before I walk into the room, however, I abandon all the plans I have developed and focus 100% of my attention on how I can teach what those call for today present. Sometimes the results are surprising.
A personal example from last year where i planned a teaching occasion with a team of educators I had worked with four months previously. A very careful plan had been developed to meet the needs their leaders said were the most important. In the early part of the morning, I asked the question, “So what’s new?” The response showed that there had been an event that happened over the past few weeks that was not only on their minds it could redefine who there were as a team. So we spend the next day exploring this new development and completely disregarding our pre-arranged plan.
Remember planning is about approximation and can never truly be our absolute guide if we want to be present and fully experience everything in our lives.