In the process of reorganizing picture files, I came across this one of my mother in November 2013, shortly after one of the seizures she had during that period.
It was an intense time. Often it was happy, sometimes very painful. Looking at some of the pictures nearly brings tears to my eyes again, even several years afterwards.
Without any “thou shalt” moral precept, I naturally ask myself on going to bed, have you done what you were going to today, and how did it work out? – and, what are you going to do today, given your thoughts on yesterday? There is no intrinsic merit in following plans, and overdone it turns into simple compulsiveness, not an admirable trait or pattern. Something unexpected may have come up during the day, or we may come up with a better notion of what to do than we had yesterday. This should happen at least once in a while, if we’re alive and awake and aware! And yet, most often my life is not so exciting, or full of new inspiration, that it's particularly different from what I could have reasonably foreseen. (Is yours?)
I've found that very often, when it turns out that I didn‘t do something I'd planned, the reason was that I didn’t quite know how to do it. And not doing things that one doesn’t know how to do may not be such a bad thing. For me, the sense of not knowing how to do something is usually pretty tied to fear of failure. If my ignorance or inability, or worse my fears, are keeping me from getting somewhere I want to go, it’s time to think about options and approaches. Remarkably often, the obstacle can be divided into a set of sub-obstacles, all of which can be addressed with remarkable ease. A handful of key deficits can be overcome with much patience and perseverence, such as learning to make big leaps at the piano keyboard. Less often, there’s a big stone (literal or figurative) that I simply can’t move. These last events can get frustrating, unless I can identify some alternate approach – such as hiring someone who has a big machine. Simply giving up goes against the grain, and leaves me in a pet for a while.
I've been thinking harder for the last few months about matching my plans to my ability to accomplish them, and I'll probably keep thinking about that for a while longer. (For a whole year? I doubt it. Some more deserving focus will probably come along.) I do believe it's important to do things that are very difficult. Sometimes that means working daily and conscientiously, as it does with the piano. Sometimes it means finding a part of ourselves that we hadn't recognized before, which is very rewarding. It shouldn't be very often that we fail completely at something we've set our heart on. That's discouraging, and a sign that our imagination – which is a good thing – is out of touch with reality – which isn't a good thing.