Thursday, June 04, 2009

B Plans

When I was younger, I played this game with magazines or catalogs where I would flip to a random page and ask myself questions such as:

If I had to wear one dress on this page, which would it be?
If I had to eat one thing on this page what would it be?
If I had to marry one boy on this page who would it be?

I think a lot of girls played this game. At least my friends and cousins played it with me. What made the game even more fun was when your choices were less than desirable.

The funny thing about that last question is I remember at recess in grade school giggly girls would cluster around the pavement while the boys played base soccer and ask, “If one of the boys in our class had to be your boyfriend who would it be?”

More often than not we chose the same guy. Interesting – and a little revealing as to how few we regarded as “dateable”.

A couple years ago I went to a softball game to watch a group of friends from my ward play, as I often did. One of the girls from my ward was watching the game as well. She scooted next to me and whispered, “If you had to marry one of those boys out there tomorrow, who would it be?” I wasn’t surprised at her question because this was actually her favorite game. She played it at parties, at barbecues, in Sunday School…

Funny thing was, even though I adored all my friends out there, my choice as to who I would actually marry was the same as hers. And she informed me the other girls she polled previously had the same answer.

Things really haven’t changed much since 4th grade.

How practical we were at such an early age. The questions weren’t set up as “If you could” they were “If you had to”. We already understood it was futile to think in ideals. We had to look at the page in front of us and make our decision based on availability. If someone took away that page and you were allowed to have unlimited options you probably would have a different answer – what you REALLY wanted whether it was real or imaginary.

Why do we feel we must resolve ourselves to settle for something simply because it’s in front of us? Is it because we think what we really want isn’t available or "out of stock"? Do we think we're being unrealistic, too picky and should be happy with what we have in front of us?

I know I'm using boys as an example here, but I'm talking about all choices we have to make. Where we want to live, what job we want, what skills we want, what dreams we have.

If you’re familiar with Randy Pausch, he said something in his famous “Last Lecture” that I really liked. He said brick walls aren’t put there to keep us out; they’re put there to show us how badly we want something.

I guess sometimes we just don’t want something bad enough. I know that’s true for me in certain situations. But we also learn as we grow up that we don’t always (or sometimes ever) get what we planned no matter how much effort we put into it.

I was in a car with one of my good friends the other night and I told her I’m beginning to think life is just a long strand of “B Plans”. But what I think to be more true, is that life isn’t about plans at all. It’s about the opportunities that come to you, the choices you make, and how you deal with the consequences – good or bad. It’s about what you do with what you’re given.

It’s like that old saying, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.” Hopefully you’re making the most of what is given to you and you accept accountability for the choices you make. And then maybe later you realize the choices you made opened up possibilities that weren’t even on the page you were looking at to begin with.

I’m not building up to reveal any life lesson I’ve learned here. I don't write from any specific retrospect or hindsight. I'm old enough to have gained a little bit of hindsight, but I have yet to prove what I’m saying is true to my life and everything works out for the best and if we live right and make wise choices we eventually find what we really want -- whether it was there to begin with or not.

I’m counting on it though.


Ilene said...

Winnie and I used to do this with our brothers. Both of us wanted to marry Paul. John was too goofy and Mark too young.

I'm happy that I found out that my choices for a spouse weren't limited to my brothers...

Annie said...

It reminds me of that "This American Life" Episode, "Plan B" where Ira polled the audience about who was still on Plan A and the only person to raise his hand was still in college. I think sometimes I assume plan A isn't available but in reality I just need to work harder to make it a reality. I always wanted to be a writer, and it's not like I've been turned down by publishing companies, it's that I haven't even tried.

carter said...

I've made it pretty far without even having a Plan A. I'm just wingin' it here.

Charlotta-love said...

1st: I loved this post. It's something that's been on my mind for awhile now. I really think life is whatever we make it to be. We are more limited by OUR OWN SELF than by money, opportunities, circumstances, etc. so the first decision we must make is "what do I want?"

Then we go get it.

2nd: I loved the Last Lecture. That brick wall quote is something that inspired me.

3rd: If I had to marry one guy in that picture, I'd marry the middle one. I love myself a tall man!

Rhett said...

Which guy would you have married at the softball game? Come on... a least a hint :)

SRA said...

I know the girl you're talking about...haha...I think most of the folks in the ward do.

Anyway, I very much agree with what you're saying. My thought on it is that it is hard for people to deal in hypotheticals. We feel much safer making choices of what is concretely available rather than what we wish or hope would/could be available. I know that's been the case with me and the boy thing. I never participated in the "What do you look for in a guy?" conversation because I've always felt I want too much and didn't want to be dismissed as either a starry-eyed dreamer or one who expects so much she'll never find fulfillment. However, through a crazy series of events, I was put into a situation where that person actually materialized, and so my cynical heart and mind have been shut up by the reality that maybe dealing in what one wants rather than what is readily available isn't such a bad idea.

Anyway, good post!


Kelly D. said...

A few thoughts:

A)This post reminded me of one of my favorite 30 Rock quotes (from Kenneth): "I don't believe in hypothetical situations Mr. Donaghy-that's like lying to your brain."

B)Even if you manage to make your Plan A happen, it typically looks NOTHING like you imagined it would.

C)You're a fabulous writer and I'm really glad you have a blog.

Lisa Marie Trent said...

I'm with kelly's "B". I had a WHOLE plan... of the way things were going to be, how old I'd be when I got married, what he'd be like, where we would live, when we would have kids....

Oddly, what you plan on isn't necessarily the only thing you want.

You are wise beyond your years and your attitude towards life and opportunity is going to serve you quite well. Thanks for sharing it with others.

Lisa Marie Trent said...

so who WOULD you marry if you had to marry one of the guys in that line-up on the picture you posted..

Johnny Metropolis said...

You're awesome... it's been too long.

dre said...

I do love this post and I do love everyone's comments. I was wondering if your plan A included all your amazing insightful friends that you have (more specifically those that commented). When Plan A seemed complete (graduate and get a job) I just started another plan. It is interesting the things life thows at us.

I just hope I'm alert enough to make the catch!

PS was it the game you came to tue? Did you pick me? because I'm straight!

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acrspeech said...

I know I'm late in commenting Laura, but I love this. Excellent perspective...just what I needed to hear today. Love you and miss you!