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Living on autopilot

May 30, 2007

If your like me,  something happens from time to time that snaps you out of the perspective you have on life.   During that brief moment of enlightenment, you can look back over days, weeks, or months and see that you’ve lost your way.   The anxieties of the day bend and distort your perspective about what’s important and what isn’t.   I go in cycles, and having a blog is helping me to see those cycles.   I tend to get closed in, confined in thinking and perspective by the events of the day, the week, or several months, then have a moment of insight and blog it – for example here and here.

I also find it difficult to maintain a consistent perspective of who I am, what I want, and where I’m going.   If you plotted my activities in life, they might appear to be all over the map, and not likely correlated neatly along a line of purpose.  As such, my daily activities don’t consistently build upon the prior ones except be accident. 

To be fair, we don’t always know where we are going, we don’t have the ultimate vision, and so we wander a bit.  We may generally get where we think we were going, but it’s less clear if the path is something reconciled based on the experience of hindsight, or whether there was truly a plan all along that we were periodically cognisant of.

Portions of my life have seemingly passed without a clear plan – perhaps several years at a stretch.  I look back on those periods and ask where I was going, and what did I accomplish?  I accrued life experience.  Things happened, I got more stuff, went places, but in the end, have nothing really significant to show for it or do I?   Our wisdom is cumulative.  

In contrast,   another block of my life started back in 2000 with a choice I made.  I bought an opportunity for a fresh start – somewhere else to go.   I didn’t know exactly how that future was going to unfold, and it took another three years for the plan to solidify more or less completely.  The last four years have been devoted to execution of that plan – two of the years involved building a new home.  Equipped with a set of drawings, I could rationalize the order things must be done and set about doing them.  There was clear progression.  Foundation upon footings, walls upon foundation, roof upon walls.   Call that a project.   Multiple projects with supporting purpose are grouped together and called a program.   I have many more projects to complete in this program, and keeping that program in mind as the umbrella under which things fall, helps with perspective.

Where I have vision, I can plan, where I have a plan, I can live with purpose to that plan.  I can turn off the autopilot.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 30, 2007 1:56 pm

    In keeping with the house metaphor – with the house there were plans that were scrutinized by engineers, permit givers, and inspectors. As you went along each step there were more professionals to give their advice – apply their own skills, then more inspections and adjustments – until the final inspection and permission to occupy was granted. My point is that as we go through life there is not a set of plans laid out for us, even for the most fanatically religious of us. Instead we have desires or attractions and maybe some life models that we see as goals and nothing like constructing a house where every factor is required to be planned and inspected. We don’t have to have our life plan reviewed and approved. We don’t get it scrutinized and requirements for strength and appropriateness provided. We don’t get approved for “snow loads” or adequacy of our “septic system”. Our choices in life are to get and keep our selves as mentally prepared as we can for we know not what. We can let the tide and currents determine our course or we can insist on a direction and fight the winds, weather, and obstacles that impede us. Or we can compromise and see where the winds and currents are taking us and everyone else and plan for a potential future that will not exhaust us but instead leave us with the resources to make the most of where we land.
    When I was a small boy and wanted to get to a spit of land by row boat from North Bay I decided to row to it directly. I charted my course visually and headed straight for it. I had to pass under the bridge where the channel narrowed. When I got there the tide was coming in and the current was against me. I had to pull with all my energy and worked until my arms burned with pain as I pulled the oars and forced my boat past the narrows and on toward the island that was my goal. I reached it and collapsed on the warm wet beach. Later one of the old timers asked me how it went and I explained my struggle and smiled as I described how I beat the power of the tide. He gave a “humph” and said, “You know if you had waited for an hour the tide would have turned and it would have taken you right there on its own.”

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