Monday, October 8, 2007

Making plans

It's usually the same on Monday morning. I sit and ponder the necessity of the return to Los Angeles for the work week. I wonder what the traffic will be like. I wonder what the temperature will be like when we get there. I make lists of those things that need to be accomplished in the course of the week.

Today is no exception. I have that catalogue text to finish. I have a new "Art of Outrage" segment to submit... October 10 is the deadline for both. Ellie and I have an artists' group on Tuesday. And then Thursday and Friday I have to be back down south, since I have two teaching days at Cal State Fullerton. It seems like a lot...

The trick, of course, is to be where I am now, at 8AM Pacific time in Laguna Beach, ready to get down to the gym in a few minutes...

But there, see, already I think ahead. Who was it said that life is what happens when you're busy planning something else? John Lennon? And there's that joke about giving God something to laugh about... just make plans.

The Buddhist teaching? Simple, as usual: Be here now. Breathe. But even though I "know" better, I persist in living so much of my life in the future, consuming energy in useless preparation for events that will never turn out exactly as I expect them to anyway.

How about you?


Mark said...

That's a question I've been thinking a lot about lately due to the fact that this stage in my life requires me to start planning the way the ENTIRE rest of my life will go. How much planning is a Buddhist allowed to do? How is it possible to live entirely in this moment in a Western world that requires so much planning? I have no answer, as usual. Only more questions.

robin andrea said...

I remember reading Be Here Now in 1972. It helped in a very rudimentary way to answer the question about how to stay present but also look ahead. It's like planting seeds in a garden. We are completely in the moment when we plant, and when we harvest.

Have you ever seen the documentary about Ram Dass called Fierce Grace? If not, I highly recommend it. It's fantastic.

TaraDharma said...

I've been almost too good about "be here now." As I get older, I realize that planning for the future will allow me to "be here now" when I am aged and retired. I also need to plan the day/week ahead so that I don't have all that garbage floating around in my brain -- figure it out, write it down, breathe.

Mark, I think a Buddhist is allowed to do as much planning as she needs to. Nothing forbidden about planning ahead. "To everything there is a season."

I second RA's recommendation on Fierce Grace. It is so moving; I usually tear up when I watch it.

PeterAtLarge said...

Mark--Tara's right. The thing is not to get attached to outcomes, I think. You do have to make plans for your life, of course, but be ready for those things that will doubtless come along to invite you to reconsider whatever plans you made! Also, virtually every one of the injunctions of the Eightfold Path comes into play here, especially, of course, Right Livelihood. It might be worth a trip to Acces To Insight to check these out again (link
in the right hand sidebar of The Buddha Diaries.). They are extraordinarily helpful in the kind of dilemma you describe.

Robin and Tara, thanks for the wisdom and the recommendation. I have already ordered "Fierce Grace" on Netflix. I reviewed Ram Dass's book about his post-stroke life, "Still Here," for the LA Times a while ago. I wish, Robin, that I'd been in the right place to read "Be Here Now" when it first came out, as you were. I wasn't. I was too smart in those days! (There's academia for you!) It took me another 20 years of recovery from the head-life to get around to it!

thailandchani said...

I'm probably the odd bird but I rarely make plans for things that are not fairly immediate. You know, I might decide when I get up that I will do something that day.. something chore-related or something that must get done for maintenance. Beyond that, I don't invest much in planning.

Weird, I know. :)



carly said...

You guys! I'm thinking what my mother would've said, "Quit your worrying. You're living in the moment making plans. So what?".

She used to love to say 'so what?'

pix-a-daisy said...

Your post struck a chord with me. So, I’m letting my adaptive unconscious steer me in posting my first comment; EVER.

We all do a bit of thinking ahead. I know, I certainly do. All of us have such busy lives nowadays. No doubt, our sped up lifestyles of over stimulation, tight schedules, and transient consumerism can take its toll. Perhaps the forecasting of our day ahead is something instinctual, such as; “look out for the bump in the road” sort of instinct or “always be prepared” – as the Boys Scouts pledge.

Being a mom, I think I feel this harder than some. I am never without a post-it pad (wince) or a notebook handy to scribble down the places to be and when, the things to do, stuff to purchase, to not forget to take along... and that’s before I get to my actual work beyond the parenting. I spend a great deal of time and thought creating, managing, and following these lists with the notion that it may improve my ability to get things done or keep my loved ones on track. Though, I know, deep down, some things are simply up to chance.

Beyond all of the lists, I make an effort (rather, effortless effort) to just let my gut lead me sometimes. It may mean that my to-do list doesn’t shrink as quickly as I’d like, but the occasional whimsical course in a busy day is usually more worth while than the thing I’d actually planned on doing.


PeterAtLarge said...

Pix-a-Daisy... thanks for joining us--and thanks for making this fine comment your first ever! I couldn't be more delighted that you picked The Buddha Diaries to, um, lose your cherry?! Cheers, Peter

Anonymous said...

Thanks. It was my pleasure. I was in need of a nice diversion from whatever I had scribbled on my flock of post-it notes.