“What’s the plan, Stan?” is such a great saying. My dad used to say it to me and I find myself saying it to my kids. “What’s the plan, Stan?” I ask lightheartedly when they are getting ready to go out with friends or when we are planning our day. “What’s the plan, Stan?” I’ll text to check in with them and see what is going on.
It’s a simple, almost whimsical question. It brings a sense of levity to a situation, makes it seem less overbearing. There is something about rhyming that makes even a difficult query seem a little easier.
So I thought I would try it out on a bigger question. A question that, I have had since my divorce a few years ago. A question that, I have kept neatly tucked in the far recesses of my brain since I decided to quit my job last year and follow my spiritual path. A question that, as time goes on and I don’t see major life and career changes happening quickly, peek its head out more and more trying to get my attention.
I take a deep breath. I am nervous. Bringing my question forth and exposing it to the light of day will make it very real. I won’t be able to tuck it neatly back into the recesses of my brain and pretend it isn’t there. I will have to deal with it. I’m not sure I’m ready but I know I also can’t ignore it any longer. So here it goes…
“What am I going to do with the rest of my life and how am I going to support myself?” I finally give an anxious voice to the question that has troubled me for so long.
Whoa! Well that was overwhelming to say the least. Putting “the rest of my life” and “support myself” in the same question was probably not a great idea. Either question on its own is a lot to handle and would make even the strongest of people feel a little weak in the knees.
But wait a minute. Why is it a lot to handle? Is it because of the words I used? The way I phrased it? Is it because of the way I am making the question so all encompassing or possibly because it is charged with my anxiety and my fear? The knowledge that the last remnants of my old identity, the me I have known for so long, and feel comfortable with, has to change.
Wow that’s the golden nugget I was looking for, change. That’s it really. The underlying emotion we feel in almost every situation has to do with how we are perceiving change.
If we perceive change as something to be feared or something to be lost than it creates a sense of anxiety. Rereading my words above “the last remnants of my old identity, the me I have known for so long…” are riddled with a sense of fear and loss. My whole thought process surrounding the imminent change that is upon me is that I am going to be worse off than I am now. I will be losing a part of myself, my identity.
Whether the change happens because a relationship ends, or our children grow up and leave home, or our careers are changing or ending, it doesn’t matter. Whether the change is our choice usually doesn’t matter either. We still feel a sense of loss and a sense of fear of the unknown that somehow it won’t be as good as we know now.
But what if we think of it, this change that is upon us, in a different way? What if we embrace change as an inevitable and wondrous part of life? That we are grateful for an opportunity to grow and evolve? Immerse ourselves in a process of self-discovery? Know in our hearts that as we grow we expand our body of life experiences, not diminish them or us in any way.
Maybe the key to handling life and the inevitable changes we will experience is really all in our perception. Possibly even more simply in the delivery of the questions.
So I’ll try it a different way.
“What’s the plan, Stan?” I ask myself with a smile.
Please visit Patricia at her website