Confession: I'm addicted to to-do lists. I mean, seriously addicted. I've even been known to, on occasion, have a to-do list that has, as a line item: "make tomorrow's to-do list". A to-do list within a to-do list! What sort of twilight zone world am I living in? There's just something so satisfying about crossing off items from the list. I get a sort of demented pleasure from it. I wish I was lying, but that's just the way I am. I'm a planner. I'm an accomplisher. I have an anal Type A personality. (I mean, I organize my closet by color and type - dresses, shirts by sleeve length, pants, etc - of clothing for crying out loud.) I like there always to be an order to things. If I can anticipate, I'll always be ready. I'll never caught off guard.
And that's reassuring. Sometimes.
A couple things have happened to me (well, rather, around me) lately that have me second guessing the validity of having a plan. First, I got an email from a friend of mine who is in the middle of a 6-month trek with her husband through New Zealand. Both had great jobs, close family and friends, a nice apartment; the works. But they pressed pause on their life in Chicago and decided to explore for a while. They went without a real plan other than to make their way around NZ and make any money that they could, picking up odd jobs along the way. An approach that I admired when I first heard of it, but, secretly, it scared me shitless. And now every time I read their blog I can't help but be jealous.
Second, one of my dearest friends got into the summer publishing program at NYC. (Congrats, Lyd!) So, she's picking up in a couple weeks and moving out to New York for the summer to chase down her dream job in publishing. When she first told me she got in she was excited, sure. But she was also really nervous. You know that nervousness that sets in when you realize you don't know what you're doing or where it's leading? Yeah, that's the one. I couldn't help but commiserate with her. These things are exciting, but they're scary.
And, finally, I just said goodbye to one of my co-workers who left for Europe on Tuesday to bike around the continent for 6 months. He knows where he's flying into and he know when and where he's flying out of. The rest he'll figure out as he goes. And if he's got to sleep on the side of the road a couple nights? Well, he's looking forward to that. The planner in me was screaming: but you don't know what's going to happen!
But that's the thing. We have no way of knowing the end. We can't predict what's going to happen. We can't plan for everything. Life's just not like that. Sometimes we just need to leap and trust that the net will appear. Or, better yet, leap and believe that somewhere along the fall, we'll spread our own wings and take off. Take off to new heights we could have barely dreamed of before.
And if it's a little bit scary? Well, sometimes that's the only way you know you're doing it right.