The Power Of A Word


24 March 2021

   When I was just entering early adulthood, I made a plan for my life. I think I gave it a lot of thought, and was really excited with the result. Eagerly, I shared it with a close friend. The friend read through it (I don’t think it was more than one page long), then (without preamble) said, “It’s pretty naïve.”

   I think I was too surprised and deflated (and too young) for any follow-up discussion or conversation. Was my plan naïve, or was it naïve of me to make a plan?  Was the plan unrealistic, or stupid? Was “naïve” the right word, or just an unfortunate choice? I don’t know. I never asked any questions, or gave my friend a chance to elaborate. I can’t tell you (or me) what my “plan” entailed because I think I I threw the paper in the trash soon after. I never remember seeing it, again.

   That was many decades ago. My friend stayed friends with me; we did a lot of things together, and shared a lot of both good and bad times. Still, I think our later interactions were more companiable than open-hearted. “Once bitten, twice shy?” Overreaction to a single incident? Probably. I suspect we both missed out on some good stuff.

   Did that incident change my life? Who can say? I know I remembered it vividly for all these many years, which must mean something. I’ve only had a few friends through the years that were close enough that I might have shared my deepest thoughts. Was that because they really weren’t that type of friend, or because of reluctance on my part to let them become sharers of my more personal ideas, hopes, and dreams? (“Once bitten, twice shy.”) Good question.

   I never prepared another long range plan for my life, but was it because of that first aborted (by me) attempt? Maybe, but it could just be the result of “growing up.” I’ve always been open to opportunities, and have carefully considered the pros and cons of those opportunities when they arose, but I’ve never envisioned the next “stepping stone” in my career or any other aspect of my life. And, as the years have gone by, I’ve learned what most of us learn: no matter how much we plan, Life has a way of deciding what really happens.

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© Sanford Wilbur 2021