January 23, 2008

Why We Plan

Why do we plan? That was the question in my planning theory class last night. The answer which leapt to my mind was not what our professor was looking for, so I kept my teeth tightly closed, though today I continue to ponder it.

We plan because we are intrinsically afraid of the unknown. What could be more unknown than the future? So we plan in order to reassure ourselves and, using history as our basis, we have turned this compulsion into a high art. We have even achieved a realistic amount of success, if achieving what was planned for can be called that. However, it doesn’t change the basic fact that the future is still unknown. It only obscures it for a bit.

I plan at lot. I mean, a lot, a lot. I plan my day, my week, my year, my life. I plan my route to run errands, which aisles in the grocery store to hit and in what order, how to arrange my closet, my bookshelves, my refrigerator, when to study for history and when for math, when to call this person and how to write that email, and what will be for dinner. Yet despite all of this, I am not an ultra-organized person. I space off and miss my turn. I end up going down the same aisle twice because I forgot something. My desk is piled with random papers and books. I rarely cook. You see, I am addicted to planning, but not to the plan.

I often wonder how much of my life I miss out on as a result. How much of my time is spent wandering obliviously through the world while planning for whatever is just around the corner? Probably a lot. And for what? I do admit that planning brings me a certain amount of joy – they way other people enjoy good wine or doing the crossword puzzle. It is like my entire life is one big puzzle and I jump at the chance to endlessly recombine the pieces.

How much of it is joy at the activity of planning and how much of it is fear of the unknown and a coinciding need for comfort? How much of it is a learned response? How much is the little girl who could have been out there playing soccer with the other kids but was instead on the fourth branch of a cottonwood trying to figure out how to make the best tree house in case she didn’t get along and needed to live alone?

How much is fear of groundlessness?

1 comment:

greenfrog said...

This is helpful to me today, Monica.