Dress Rehearsal for Disaster


I have arrived at a question that I know the answer for yet all the logic in the world is not enough to rationalize the behavior away. This is going to take a conscious effort and hard work on my part as well as patience and critique from those in my inner most circle.  At times I have this perpetual need to anticipate every possible outcome and devise a plan for them, especially the negative ones. I understand the root of this problem, I still have a hype- vigilance that would rival the best added to the fact I grew up encouraged to succeed and be independent that takes planning and focus that would make some of the greatest innovators jealous. I spent the majority of my adult life and even a bit of my childhood worrying about the outcome, anxiously planning for all possibilities but my life is no longer what is used to be, it is not one long string of anticipated disasters, there is no longer a continual call for clean-up on isle 3; it has not been for years yet there are still times l revert to survival mode in some sense.

I recall a little over four years  ago that I was discussing with my attorney about some legal actions and I started the what if game. He quickly explained he liked to play chess as well as the next guy but with the options and potential outcomes it would become quite expensive based on his hourly rate, I was better served to deal with things as they arose. This was the first time I realized that I tried to analyze the situations from every angle and plan for all possible contingencies. While I did a quick statistical analysis and realized there were a mere 24 outcomes, it would be daunting to look at the legal ramification of each.  This is at times a burdensome behavior but it can also serve me well. I try to always consider a situation from every angle, not just my preference. I analyze and approach things from the stance of logic and when you are working with others that may be helpful. A friend often refers to my ability to play devil’s advocate by seeing another position, maybe it is just the academic in me but I need to understand it from all possible sides to fully understand it.

Other than analyzing to understand, most of the time now I just tend to plan to ensure I am able to meet my responsibilities; I set aside time for my family, work, my studies, as well as time for myself with those I care for. I am afraid if I do not plan for those things most important to me, I will begin to wander through life and arrive at the end wishing I had only made the time.  When the going gets tough, when I feel I am about to falter, I find myself reverting to planning for the unknowns, back as square one of survival mode. Now I am struggling with my studies; feeling out of my league I am working diligently to persevere but feel it may not be enough; I am standing on this precipice about to fall. I am filled with doubt which triggers my need to plan, this contrived form of control what you can which is merely an illusion. So my mind becomes filled with thoughts, should I plan for dinner with a friend on Thursday, with the sudden change in parenting plans do I need to go to the grocery, how will I finish my research when I have no quiet time to study unless I pull an all-night session or two… I try to dismiss these for I know there is no planning that can balance my concern. I am sure those closest to me see this, even become as overwhelmed by the process as I do.

While there have been times the planning has been useful, saved my from a worse outcome, in reality I have spent more time planning than I gained from the analysis.  I do find comfort in knowing for instance I am at point a and will plan to arrive at point b; I so enjoy the journey between.  I need to let a bit of  this go, give the control over to others or to no one, let them plan as they see fit, or leave things uncharted, and see what occurs. Will there be plans made or just events that happen?

I am painfully aware there is no dress rehearsal for disaster, I cannot play chess with imaginary outcomes of a situation, I cannot anticipate the disappointments as a means to avoid them. Life will happen on it’s own terms, I cannot make a neat itinerary for it. Does this go back to an issue with trust? Do I not trust enough in my strength to pick up the pieces and move forward when it becomes difficult? Do I not have the courage to just let go? Will I ever have the strength to trust that life will unfold as it should?

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  ― Robert Frost


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