The question was innocent enough. I mean, I realize that it’s something people want to know. But I’ve actually never been asked this question point blank…. up front…. in my face. And I was completely stymied. And a little bit freaked out.
The question was: “what is your long-term plan?”
The husband of a friend made this query as we were talking on Skype. They are coming to visit France this summer and we were talking rental cars, train schedules, and hotels. She had to leave the computer for a minute and he and I started talking. That’s when he dropped the bomb.
And it felt like a bomb. Really. My girlfriends and family have asked this question before, but in a much more roundabout way. And when such a question is asked that way, it’s easy to contemplate and answer in an equally roundabout fashion. Such is not the case with “what is your long-term plan?”. Geez, leave it to a man!
And he really expected an answer. How do I reply to a question like that?
“Yes, and it involves crossing my fingers and hoping something comes along?” Or….
“I trust in the Universe to take care of me.”
When my answer is staring me in the face like that, I sound like a complete dimwit! And I really have never thought of myself as stupid. At least until yesterday.
I had a long-term plan once. And according to that plan my 2 children would be out of college, debt free and beginning their new lives with decent jobs. My ex-pectorant and I would be re-discovering each other and watching our big fat retirement account grow so that in about 3 years we could retire and travel…anywhere! In the meantime, I would be happily working part-time, spending the remainder of my time at the millions of things I love to do, and thoroughly enjoying my comfortable…. mundane existence.
As it turned out… it didn’t turn out. The boys are STILL in school and the college money is used up. Ex-pec is gone (thank God) and it turns out he spent the retirement account and doesn’t even really LIKE to travel. So much for long-term planning! I’ve become something of a skeptic.
I googled the phrase “long-term plan” this morning. This is apparently something REALLY IMPORTANT. There were 87 pages of articles related to said subject. Most of these involved money, retirement…. money, retirement…oh yes and a little bit more about money and retirement. Oh shitballs...that tedious subject again?
There is a Chinese proverb that says “He, who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years”.
On the other hand, Confucius, who was also Chinese, said, “ A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door”.
Hey, Chinese wise men…make up your mind!
Mike Tyson (intelligent and wise man that he is) said, “Everyone has a plan - until they get punched in the face”.
But to quote E.B. White (and I’m running with this one), “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.”
My long-term plan really consists of all the things I’m not going to do. That’s all. I’m not going to leave France and go back to the U.S. until I want to. I’m not going to work at another job that gives me a stomachache and causes me to lose sleep on a nightly basis. I’m not going to marry someone who is comfortable but boring as hell. …in fact, I don’t see a reason to marry at all. And I’m not going to have a retirement fund. These things I know.
So, in answer to your question, my friend, I have a long-term plan but not in the conventional sense. I know it’s unwise and I know I sound like a simpleton. I also know I’m a little afraid of not having a real one. But to quote myself (after all, this is my blog):
They say you only get one shot at life. I'm not sure if that is true but I am sure that I don't want to waste this one. And I am also sure that life never turns out the way we planned and good planning doesn't necessarily make a good life. Sometimes we just have to jump off the edge.