According to Plan

I have to admit to myself that very little of my life has gone according to plan. It would be comforting to claim that this has been for the best. But it has been, such that this is now.

I find myself circling back to old desires that were somehow discarded along the way – like a dream where you are traveling with a baby and then suddenly you’re not. There’s no panic, no regret, just wonder: I wonder how that slipped away so quietly.

Things never look entirely the same when one returns to a place stamped in memory. Buildings are smaller, people are less attractive – or more so. A novel we remember as almost finished is a half-page of notes.

“I want to be a fireman” is an hour’s deep impression, not a long path through childhood. I’m not expressing an original thought when I say that significance warps our perception of time.

The common advice for rekindling a sense of desire is to try to remember what you enjoyed doing when you were younger. What you were doing when time seemed to fly by. But I think the problem is that our memories are biased. We remember what is reinforced. What is stamped in our memories under personal or cultural pressure.

In the past months, I’ve been sorting through notebooks and computer files. So many times I’ve stumbled over declarations and confessions that I don’t remember writing. Poems and outlines for projects that are so like soft-boned babies that somehow slipped away in a dream. These are flashes of desire. The signposts of paths not taken.


Where I come from, the words most highly valued are those spoken from the heart, unpremeditated and unrehearsed.

Maybe the greatest privilege of this time of my life is the time to circle back. There is a roundness that comes with age, a natural and new returning like a second orbit with a slightly different perspective. And a slightly different perspective can change everything.

A decade ago I left a thousand and one eggs on a blog with the same name. I’d forgotten about them. These things – now uglier and more beautiful than I’d understood. These flashes of desire that I recognize as genuine.

I have a plan to circle back.

These days I’m under far less pressure and I’m excited by
the rough roundness of eggs,
the ugliness of hatchlings –
the fearlessness of flight.


Leave a Comment

  1. I like this right honoring of past desires. Some of them were fleeting nonsense. Some of them were more. Thanks for helping me with the distinction.

  2. I think I might love being just plain mundane. Wasn’t I before? Maybe not. We adore telling our stories, flashing that badge of identity. Well, me at least. And mundane is looking “up” about right now.

    Memory is a question mark for me. Even when it reigns over a mostly vacant room. Long before my last years damage to memory I knew well how untrustworthy memory is. With my own eyes I witnessed my memory vs. actuality. Memory was wrong much as I’d thought for years it was unquestionably right.

    Add to the mix, as a writer, language and its second cousin, memory, has presented itself as a challenge now. I take that personally. I take that with a measure of fear I suppose.

    Shifting stance, thanks for all you write. I’ve wanted my prose to be more personal AND more poetic. Your writing has been a clear light to me. I read, I listen, sometimes write and closer to what I’d like to say. Slow but still movement here.

    Gratitude don’t need memory.

    Oh, and maybe I’d add another last line to your poem here?
    the fearlessness of light.