Friday, December 15, 2006


We live in a very goal-oriented society, don't we? Everything in life is meant to go by plan, ticked one-by-one off of a list, never left to chance. I've always disliked the question, "So what do you want to do with your life?" because I don't think that life is something to plan. Oh, we make decisions, accept jobs or quit them, move from city to city... we build our lives bit by bit, stage by stage. But I don't know anybody who had a master plan at the age of, say, 20, and followed it faithfully. Most of us are more likely to try something, re-think, try something else. When Don finished high school, he went to school to become an auto-mechanic. A turn of fate and a broken ankle brought him to construction instead. At 19, he joined the army, which took him to Germany, where he began learning the rudiments of hotel maintenance and engineering. Each turn builds on the last. If someone had asked him at 18 what he wanted to do with his life, he would have replied with auto-mechanics. At 25, he wanted to retire with the army. Even now, it's impossible to know what he'll be doing in 10 more years. When I was 18, I wanted to be a chef. In college, I thought about finance-- stocks, fund management, the works. Now? I have no idea. I don't have a master plan. I'm letting my life take it's own twists and turns and seeing where it takes me. So why does everything have to follow a script?

One example: marriage proposals. When Don and I announced that we were engaged, it seems like everybody wanted to know "how he did it", because there's this pervading media-driven idea that a proposal should be a carefully thought-out, planned event. It should include any or all of the following: bended knees, expensive jewelry, a prepared speech, tears, and a "theme" that speaks to the couple's relationship--a ballpark? a restaurant? a movie theater? How he did it? How about very late one night, after a long conversation, in bed, in the dark. Cuddled up together talking about the future, he asked...Would I marry him? And I would. Not planned, not well-reasoned with a list of pros and cons, but a spontaneous, from-the-heart proposal.

Another life event that's supposed to go by plan: kids. Having a baby is supposed to be carefully decided upon. Conception is something that is absolutely supposed to go as planned; a goal to achieve or not, a 'done' on a to-do list. There is a continuum of conception from absolutely trying not to get pregnant to doing everything within one's power to get there, but it is a continuum with a rather large gap in the center. On the far end of the scale is sterilization-- a tube-tie or vasectomy. Then various forms of birth control, from the draconian IUDs/shots/etc to loosey-goosey condoms. Then an abrupt shift, from actively preventing pregnancy to courting it, to "trying"; all the way up to the invasive in-vitro procedures and etc . This is why any time a woman gets pregnant, the couple is asked if it is "planned". Which I would find incredibly rude, but hey maybe that's just me. Why not just ask, "So, did you actually *want* this kid?"

What ever happened to the middle ground of the spectrum? What about not-trying-not-preventing, about leaving things to chance, about letting nature take its course? Is there still room in this world for chance, for spontaneity? Don and I probably won't start "trying" to make a baby until after the wedding, but for the time being, we're existing in this happy middle ground of "well-let's just-see-what-happens". This approach seems to have worked for humanity for millennia, before we felt the need to control every aspect of existence, and it's fun too. So, if I end up writing a "surprise-I'm-pregnant" post, please don't ask if it was "planned", or if we were "surprised", or whatever. Instead, consider it serendipity.


Amanda said...

I think too much planning only leads to gaping holes of disappointment or a feeling of you "screwed up" somewhere along the main course of things. Like I told my mom, "true, one must have a foundation to build a house on, but even ones made of concrete crack...makes more sense to make one with flexible beams".

And ya, "planning" kids is silly. Jordan and I, in the eight years of our togetherness, kept hearing "so when are the kids popping out". And after two years of marriage, again...more kid talk. As if that was the only "fruitful" (pardon the expression) thing we could produce from our union. How about a loving, understanding, give-and-take relationship? No, we didn't plan our son, but we did know that we wanted kids at some point and this past year it was a "well, lets not try to NOT have them, but if we end up pregnant, great". Two months after that decision, I give you Zephyr. :)

Mara said...

Wow, sounds like you were in the same place that I'm in right now!

I'm so glad that there are other people who understand that I would rather not put 'make a baby' on the to-do list right after 'finish the laundry', and that I'm still not sure what I'm going to 'use my degree' for.

P.S. I'm totally jealous of you re: Zephyr, though... not sure if you've picked up on that yet! :)

Amanda said...

LOL :)
Don't worry girl, no need for jealousy, trust me! You too shall know the "joys" of pregnancy...I just have a feeling...

But yes, the whole "make babies" right after "remodel kitchen" is such nonsense. I mean, it helps to have an idea of what you want when, where, and how; but if you put too little into it or too much, it seems to me that you miss out on the whole "living life" bit. Hehe. I'll keep you filled in on all the baby glory and then we'll see if you're still feeling the twinge. ;)

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