“The best laid plans never survive first contact with the enemy.”
Moltke the Elder
I am thinking of when my daughters were young and they owned a series of books called “And then it happened”. The gist of the stories was that life was happening along on its own merry way… and then… we all know this story, because it happened to us. The well-known fork in the road. People plan, and God laughs, I believe is the theological observation describing the same phenomenon.
More of life is an accident than most people care to admit. Think the Apostle Paul. His story was interrupted when he was knocked off his donkey by a bright light and a voice from the heavens which no one else could hear. It was his Damascus Road moment in popular parlance. Most people who subscribe to religious belief, had some kind of epiphany moment when they “saw the light”. Everything changed. They saw the fork in the road and like the Apostle Paul, the fork in the road became the story.
The fork in the road is also I suspect, the most common variant to everybody’s story. Your life is not defined by your plans as much as it is defined by what you did NOT plan. Do you go down the road? Sometimes you don’t have an option. The only way forward, is forward.
This came to light because my second daughter is making some career choices and putting in applications for further branches of study. She asked if door A (most preferable option) does NOT open, does she go for door B by default? I would answer unequivocally YES. There are reasons for this. One is momentum. Trying a thing over and over, even though we are advised this is the NOBLE route, can burn you out. You can stall in one spot trying the same thing over and over. Some people describe this as the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over which does not in fact work.
So door B is the one which actually opens for you. Why not go through? Door B will undoubtedly reveal some adventures you never considered. But there are more compelling reasons than that. Door B actually holds truths you may not have thought through. You need to go through the door to adequately consider them. Planning is overrated, and more than that, it often does not work.
Why do I say this? Because often the circumstances that arrive at your door are cumulative and based on a constellation of factors you have never considered. One of these is aptitudes. You never considered becoming a party entertainer until someone observed you riding your unicycle down the roadway while juggling. Seriously, there is the picture of you that the world sees that does not require rose coloured glasses. It may be more accurate than the picture you carry around of yourself. The things which present themselves as opportunity often come from this direction. The opportunities which present are not your first wish, but they are realistic.
Things which are reastic can be built upon. They turn into other things. I think in the aggregate they also turn into the things you really wanted, but via another route that added some dimension to your first impulse. It was a useful road, even though some twists and turns look like a bit more work.
The accidental route happens a lot to people who are creative. There is a reason for this. Creative things do not often come with their own vehicles of delivery. Fate must find and recognize a few unique openings along the way. In my own case, I have gone down some wandering roads to get to the straight trail and as I think back, I also consider that there was really no other way.
There are reasons to love Plan B kind of stories. The primary reason is because you own them. They are as original as anything unplanned can be. You did not borrow someone else’s lame dreams and carve your name into them. You went through some real Greek Tragedy, and found a road no one expected. It is your story. No one else can own it. This truth is its own strongest argument. The world loves Plan B kind of stories. They are common, and more than that, relatable.
And so I find myself giving advice as one who took the B route when I did not have the luxury of the A route. I did not have the backing or resources to sit and wait around for all the ideal things to happen. I had to work with B.
A work-around has also brought some perspective, and things I have experienced that added valuable dimension. Not the least of these is my wife whom I met by a chain of accidents. It seems she married me by accident. She tells me so. Despite this, story B is still writing itself and the children of this marriage are asking me what I did right.
I would have to say, I believe in chances beyond the obvious, the ones you may not have considered up front. Consider the B route. It may be your wildest ride and far more entertaining than the things you originally planned.
What do they say? Expect the unexpected. And when it arrives perhaps YES is an answer worthy of consideration. The accidental story could end up being your BEST story.
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