Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

(wisdom from Dr. Seuss)
by Julie LeMond

Those places probably include circumstances that you hadn’t imagined or planned for yourself. Life doesn’t usually go according to plan, or so I’ve learned again and again. That’s not to say we are victims of fate but rather we should initiate plans to fulfill our desires but remain open to the unexpected. We don’t control our destiny but we do control our reactions; we always have that choice.
Easily said, not so easily done or accepted. I’ve had some pretty great plans and have taken great risks to make them happen, only to learn that I do not control the outcomes, only the inputs. And when things don’t turn out like they ‘oughta, I cry “foul” and “life’s not fair!” At least that’s my initial reaction along with a few “why me?” and “forget it all!” exclamations thrown in for good measure. As Dr. Seuss wrote in "Oh! The Places You'll Go", one of my all-time favorite stories, “the Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.” “You’ll be left in a Lurch… and… then… you’ll be in a Slump”. And “un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
But once the clouds begin to clear you may find yourself “ready for anything under the sky.” At least that has been my experience. After losing my business, and then losing my house, my pets, my pride, my dignity, my privacy…I stop short of saying ‘everything’ because I’m grateful for my healthy and supportive family…I experienced an incredible sense of weightlessness. When our financial woes were insurmountable I realized ‘they’ can take the cars but ‘they’ can’t take our children and there is no longer a debtor’s prison. Without all those financial yokes, it dawned on me…I can be anywhere in the world doing whatever I want.
Whoa! What a gift this has been and has awakened the dreamer in me again. With a simple tax refund I could be on the other side of the planet.  I got some outrageous ideas (many inspired by Rita Golden Gelman's book Tales of a Female Nomad), indulged in National Geographic’s travel guide (which my friends affectionately call ‘travel porn’) and explored the websites of international civil service organizations. At this giddy point I hear Dr. Seuss in my head, “You’ll get mixed up of course…with many strange birds as you go…and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.”
So I must temper my dreams with priorities such as “good” schools, health benefits and a safe and predictable environment for children. Ack! I can feel the tightening of the yoke again. What is this great balancing act? I’m not sure but I’m more confident of my inputs and less sure about the outcomes and that’s o.k. because there might be some ‘un-plan’ better than my plan.

The Bottom Line:Though your plans may not turn out as expected, sometimes the outcome can be better than the initial intention, if you are willing to be open-minded.

Julie LeMond is a freelance writer specializing in nonprofit management issues.


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