Friday, November 12, 2010

I Set Goals, I Made Plans... What'd I Miss?!?

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

- John Lennon

I've never quoted John Lennon before but this particular insight is far more profound to me than most of what he has been know to say. For most of us, including myself for a long time, the likes of this are often recited with a well-rehearsed upward glance and an inflection of egocentric wisdom as if the speaker has attained some rare cosmic awareness that all listeners should receive with awe.

All that said, what I thought I might do is simply try to apply it and at least add it to the criteria by which I measure my own success as I take a daily inventory. To this end I devote this blog...

I left my job a few months ago to pursue other things. Unfortunately, things didn't go quite as planned. Now I have to manage the situation. BUT, this is where my situation and that of many others cease to differ. Once you find yourself in a difficult situation, even a situation that is not your fault, it is, more often that not, your problem to solve. As I am not attempting to write a how-to guide on finding a job in a slow economy, I'll leave it at that.

The last several weeks have, though, given me the opportunity to learn, or at least reinforce, three very important lessons that life often tries to teach us....

1) In time, we can solve (or at least improve) most of our problems we are faced with if we put all of our resources to the effort.

2) Don't always mistake an unforeseen change of circumstances as an automatic tragedy.

3) Take notice of everything that is going on in your life, because that is what life is!

It seems the third lesson is the one that we seem to have the most difficult time getting our head around, especially in this age where success and value are measured by salaries, titles, bank accounts, and investment portfolios. We all have a way of focusing our energies and agendas on what will make us successful. I will be fair and concede that many have defined success in more ways that just personal gain or recognition. Many goals are quite noble or beautiful. But they are still goals to be attained. At least that is how it has been for me. I seem to be always in pursuit of something, constantly striving and pressing. Sometimes as honorable as academic achievement or a service project, or often as self-centered as pointless recognition or financial gain. And everything in between. I have started so many conversations by asking about projects or business endeavors or looking for the first opportunity to tell someone of my latest success or accomplishment.

Recent choices and unexpected results have set me up for some setbacks and opportunities. I have, in fact, made some plans as a result of the unexpected. Not the least of these plans have been a new business start up. As a matter of fact, I am working on a business that I have been considering for quite some time. I am indeed giving that a lot of time and effort. But that is not what I am here to talk about. Right now I am more interested in what is happening around me while I am planning this phase of my life. The business may or may not be a success. More than likely, it will look very different than I envision at this point.

I did get a new job. I work at a nearby Trader Joe's grocery store. Compared to what I did before (at least the salary) I could say that I'm underemployed. But that isn't true. It's a very rewarding job that, not only affords me a new set of opportunities, it also bestows an amazing new resource for experiences. I already have a number of cool stories to tell. But interestingly, one of my new life experiences was there all along. Right there before me, and it took all of this to make me me very grateful for this experience that I have the joy of experiencing every day.

It's about Teddy...

Teddy is my dog. He's a seven year old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. Oddly, not a breed I would have chosen. I always fancied myself more of a Retriever type (whatever that means). Anyway, Teddy is very energetic and passionate. He knows what he wants when he wants it. It's always a very good idea to keep all food that is intended for human consumption pushed way back on the kitchen counter. Anything near the edge is eternally in the corner of his eye. He knows better. He understands the cost of eating my Tombstone pizza while I'm in the bathroom. But, to Teddy, that pizza is worth any verbal abuse that may come his way. He likes his crate anyway. I regularly buy two (their usually two-for-one anyway). Works out well for both of us.

It's not that I didn't have time to spend with Teddy in the past. It's also not that I never did. I did, he's my dog. I just never found myself planning my day around seeing Teddy. I never stopped to pick up a treat for him on my way home. He's just a dog. But lately, now that I have this new job where I work in the evening and come home late at night, things are different. Every night when I get home, all I want to do is sit down, eat a pizza (really!) and watch TV. Teddy joins me. He's a big part of the ritual. He get some of the pizza. I actually give it to him. I've heard tell that some dog experts says that pizza is not good for a dog. Teddy disagrees. After I've been home a while and Teddy has had enough pepperoni and mushroom, he does that stand-up-spin-around-sniff-spin-around-again-for-no-reason-that-he-can-explain and then rolls over to the other end of the couch. Teddy needs his personal space for sleeping. Scratching Teddy's back during this little get together is also a bid deal. When I do it, he repeatedly licks the air above his head. I have no idea why. I think he knows that it entertains me and I keep scratching.

One night I got home and Teddy wasn't there. At first, I didn't think much of it... just figured he went out to get a pizza. A few minutes later, I got a text from my sister-in-law who live's here part time (a whole nother story). As it turns out, she decided to take him with her to her friend's house for the night. I tried to just let it go... she's actually really good with Teddy. Nope, not gonna work. My sister in law doesn't like to talk on the phone. She prefers texting. She says it's not safe to TALK on the phone while driving and such. This said, we had a two and a half hour text conversation (6 or 7 actual texts) about her bringing Teddy home. It was two in the morning when they got here. She wasn't happy... I was though. Teddy slept on the couch by my feet. No pizza that night.

The point? I still have some problems to deal with. I'm behind on a lot of bills. The new job isn't gonna pay them all. I need to keep my plans moving. I do have a life happening everyday. Lot's of great things to be grateful for, not the least of which is Teddy and licking the air. Life is good today. Gotta take the dog out now.

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