A TGB READER STORY: Scary Movies
Happy Thanksgiving 2019

On Thanksgiving Eve 2019

Thanksgiving week reminds me that quite a long while ago – 12 or 15 years I would guess, or more – I spent a five-hour drive home from visiting a friend for the holiday in the company of a person who had planned each step of his life.

He worked it all out on a gigantic graph he updated as events and plans came to be. It started at graduations from college and law school, then career goals, financial goals, when to marry, when have children and how many, etc. all on a timeline with target dates to be met.

It got more granular than that but I have forgotten the particulars. What I recall is thinking (then and now) what polar opposites we were – his pre-planned, methodical roadmap through life as opposed to my more free-wheeling, lets-see-what-happens, laissez faire, meandering path.

It was always that way for me. Maybe it started when I was a kid, when parents make all the big decisions, and I never outgrew it. Or, perhaps I had a commitment problem. If I don't make a firm choice – my thinking might have been - I can't blame myself or regret what goes wrong.

Never having known what I wanted to do in life, I have mostly just let things happen, leaving necessary choices until timing required them. It's not that I was a ditherer, unable to make up my mind. Never that.

But I am lazy and, for example, when I needed a job as after a TV show I was working on was canceled, I put off doing the legwork until, more often than not, work turned up from out of the blue.

Not every time but frequently enough that you could call it a pattern, someone I knew telephoned: “Hey, Ronni, are you working? I've got a job to talk with you about” or something thereabouts and my problem was solved.

Back then I made light of such occurrences by attributing them to a guardian angel watching out for me even if she or he too often waited to deliver until the wolf was scratching at the door.

That angel probably has had something to do, too, with my personal life going well most of the time. Or smoothly enough to not complain much. (Don't take that statement as gospel, though. Old age seems to have provided me with a sunshine filter on my past that screens out a lot of the bad and bitter stuff.)

But it is hard to fault the angel for this end-of-life journey I have been on since mid-2017. I expected to be dead of cancer before now yet here I am. I expected to be in pain of the debilitating sort. Not so, so far.

I am acutely aware of my great, good fortune and not just in regular and interesting employment. I've been blessed with health, enough money to get by without too much effort and wonderful friends. After that, the smaller stuff is only an annoyance.

Even with my playing it so loose, life has turned out remarkably well and I really ought to remind myself of that more often than just on Thanksgiving.

Enjoy the holiday, my friends.



Comments

I've meandered too, with mixed results. At this point, I'm doing a lot better than I ever thought I would. I have creative work that comes with enough recognition to satisfy my modest need for it, I have kids that actually want to be around me, and comfortable shoes.

I have always been the grasshopper; never the ant.

One of the benefits of the long, whine-down of your end-of-life journey is you get to look back at and make sense of your life. I'm glad you can do it with your 'sunshine filter' firmly in place.

I never knew what I really wanted to do after college, so I let things happen. Luckily, they were good for me, and despite myself, I made good choices. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I thank God everyday for my blessings. Happy Thanksgiving, Ronni!

I have met a couple of people, both women, who had developed a Plan of Action and Milestones for their lives. It occurred to me that there was no chance that could work for me.
Andre Gide wrote: "The most decisive actions of our life — I mean those that are most likely to decide the whole course of our future — are, more often than not, unconsidered."
Amor fati.

Wishes to all, "Have a happy and prosperous holiday season." Especially to you Ronni.

It has been another great year 'tuned into this station'.

Jim and Gail

I just love this, Ronni. I woke up thinking of you this morning. I'm grateful to have discovered you while in my 50s; you've helped me shape what I hope is a sensible, realistic, and positive approach to aging. Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a beautiful post, Ronni. I identify with parts of it because I feel my life wasn't planned step-by-step either - and I, too, have thought I have been extraordinarily lucky. Am not sure about angels, but maybe ... just maybe ... there are those keeping watch as we experience life's journey in each unique way. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, that Plan of Action thing is scary to me! I would have missed a lot, including becoming an artist, which is the best thing I ever did. There have been a lot of difficult times, definitely some major mess ups, but I answered the call against an array of odds, worked like crazy, and loved almost every minute. I like that you are looking back and enjoying what you see. I want to do more of that too.

Wishes of light and blessings to you Ronni, and all your readers too, as we come to Thanksgiving and the winter.

I kept reading this post waiting to hear more about the friend who had made all those plans...I want to know more.

As it has been stated, life is a journey. I turned 70 this summer, divorced since 2015 and barely getting on my feet again. My self-confidence and self-esteem (whatever was left to begin with) were totaled.

My point? I love connecting through blogging and sharing ideas. I hope to start again.

Ronni,
I remember Thanksgiving at your apartment in the Village, Your great aunt’s Meissen china, the warmth and abundance of everything: friends, food. Was there a cat at that time? Happy Thanksgiving on the other side of the country, old friend.
— Joyce W.

dkzody...

He wasn't a friend - I had met him at the celebration and he offered a ride home. I don't recall much about him except that life graph.

Here's to "Sunshine Filters" to light the path..
A wonderful expression. Thank you. Ronni.
Best Thanksgiving wishes ,
Fondly,Marena

It's not clear who was the first to say, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans," but it's been attributed to a number of people, so it would seem to be a fairly common sentiment that's resonated with countless people. I suspect that those who plan everything out and for whom events then fall, reasonably well, into place are the outliers, while life events for the rest of us cluster into unpredictable patterns on our graphs.

I have no idea how my life might have turned out had I made more plans and been more disciplined about doing what it might have taken to realize them, but for the first 18 years of my life I was under the control of pretty dysfunctional parents and when I struck out on my own it took me a long time to figure a lot of things out; in fact, I'm still working on that, but the adaptation, adjustment and resilience I've had to learn along the way has often served me well, and I think that's allowed me to help some other people along their unpredictable paths, too.

Cathy J, you beat me to it. "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans." I first heard it from John Lennon in his song "Beautiful Boy," but it has also been attributed to others before him. It certainly has the ring of truth to it. All that making of plans can be very stressful, worrisome, time-consuming and can end up making not one iota of difference. All we can do is all we can do, and sometimes it still isn't enough. Take time to smell the roses, everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Ronni, I read your post thinking "this describes my own journey (so far) as well. (I spent my 20s selling lumber and my 30's-50's in front of a computer developing software—neither of which I saw myself doing when I was younger, I just took advantage of opportunities as they arose.)

But I appreciated your modest, grateful words here and hope your Thanksgiving 2019 is a pleasant one. PS. I recently finished your ‘Timeline’ series—omigosh, I loved it.

Thankful for you!

I am very different from my sibling and parents. At 65, I am 90% the same as myself at 18. I’ve been told I am flighty.

“I’ve just been faking it, not really making it”

“Prior to this lifetime, I surely was a tailor”

Ah, don’t even plan to shake it now at this stage of the game, lol.

This sounds very close to my life pattern, including the guardian angle and the relocation (in 1976) from the East Coast to Seattle. My birthday is very close to yours, day and year, and I suspect that growing up female in those times where the expectations of the 1950's changed so radically in the 1960's were a factor in my path. I was briefly married early on, have enjoyed several great relationships but am now happily single, no children. Life today is good, and I am very grateful in spite of major worry and discouragement over the state of the world.

It is what it is,
I have had five year plans forever, only now as I round the years into my 70's and had a health scare with my husband, taking it a little more slow and easy, thank you Ronni, you are a gift.

Congrats on how you’ve adapted to and survived life’s unexpected offerings. I like the “sunshine filter” concept. I did have some basic idea of where I wanted to be headed in life coupled with the idea to never stop learning. A given was the learned knowledge through childhood that unexpected things could happen despite the best of planning and I’d better know how to cope if I wanted a happy life. Also, when push came to shove there was only one person to be counted on for my welfare at any age and that was myself, since even others who cared might end up being unable to look out for me and I might even need to do that for them. The key to seeking employment was what gave me pleasure and avoiding what did not. Also, being open to new unexpected offerings I could readily integrate into my life. Often when I encountered some disappointments along the way I discovered something much better turned up not long after — made me glad the other hadn’t worked out. Keeping a “sunshine” attitude throughout it all, or soon recapturing that perspective when clouds appeared with “this, too, shall pass” has and still does make daily life worth living.

Also, curiosity about what’s next — just around the corner!

At age 14 in a spurt of brilliance (or idiocy), I planned out my life for the next dozen years - unable to think any further than that. At age 16, not to plan, I skipped a year of high school. At age 19, not to plan, I married. At age 20, not at all to plan, I bore our first child. At age 36, much later than planned, I started work on that PhD...but...never quite finished. At that point, and having had several "long range" plans along the way, I swore off planning anything further in the future than three years.

Now, at age 83, I think the planning wasn't exactly a waste of time; but, it usually suffered from a paucity of data upon which to build it.

It's a wonder that you and all of us followers have done as well as we have. We should be born clutching a life plan in one fist. *laughing*

It's obvious that I can't keep track of the data that are available since I gave my husband's age, rather than mine. I am nearing 82. Not much difference, this far along!

"sunshine filter" I like that Ronni. Explains a lot of memories for some, not so much for me at times.

Do have a good holiday, eat all the ice cream you can. :-)

Checking in again to read comments missed and to wish all here a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.

You did have guardian angels and lived a charmed life, with the sunshine filters (great term!) That person who had planned their future sounded scary and dull. I think of myself with the French world nonchalant - taking things in stride. My plan was to travel to many countries including the US. I landed in San Francisco in the 60s and liked it so much I stayed 10 years. Fortunately I have traveled to many countries.

My first year in the US I had no idea what Thanksgiving was. I was told it came from a dinner between Pilgrims and Indians, so I researched it. Turns out it is a fantasy holiday or historical myth. They ate together in 1621 but by 1636 the Puritans had slaughtered 500 Pequot Indians and were thanking God for it. For 100 years the Colonist declared a "day of public thanksgiving" thanking God for that massacre. I was not sure I wanted to be in that thanksgiving party. I know now that it was Lincoln who started it as a national holiday during the Civil War (as he was sending troops to Minnesota to suppress the Sioux….) But voila – it turned into a national time to be thankful (and to eat and shop.) So happy Thanksgiving to all then (maybe not to Native Americans.)

Your post today put a smile on my face, Ronni!

It's a rainy November evening in Montreal,

Christmas lights create patterns on wet pavement.

Meanwhile,

Across the border

On a street in NYC

You know it by heart

Yes you do

It's

A Ten minute walk from Washington Square Park

You know it by heart

Ronni's place

What are you waiting for?

You walk

You arrive

The place hasn't changed

You hear voices from inside

Look through the window

Friends, soft music, a small stage

You step inside

You're welcome

Grab a seat

Relax

And share stories

Past, present, future

Stay as long as you want

Have a cupcake

Put your feet up

You're home

At Ronni's Place

Best wishes for your Thanksgiving, Ronni.

You've got this covered

Signed, sealed, delivered

Your numero uno Montreal Fan

I am thankful for my wife who is apparently crazy about me, always was and always will be. Now, as for this blog, yes, I am thankful for it, its proprietor, and her ongoing positive health outcome--may it go on and on and on.

Ever since retirement, when the sometimes intense employment related battles were over, like a war veteran, I reflected on the past and realized that I should not have been this successful considering how, if it were solely left to me, no enterprise that I had ever worked for would have succeeded.

Ronni mentioned guardian angels. With the above conclusion in mind, I think somebody or some entity was helping me through journey and making sure that, as long as I put out maximum effort, I would be shaped into the ideal person to finally meet up with her (my second spouse and now of long duration). This was my destiny, I'm convinced, making sense of the journey.

Seems like, if we determine that we end up reaching our goals, doing something that we can call our destiny, they maybe we can be satisfied that we've had a good go at life and maybe that's why we were here in the first place? We are therefore ready for whatever is next, be it void or nirvana. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Oh Ronni, what a community you've created! I don't always agree, but so often, I wish I could reach out and hug the person who made the comment. This feels like home. I too was a drifter, no great plan, no great success, but satisfied mostly with my life. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I, too, have never been much of a planner, which seems to frustrate some of my nearest and dearest who are happier with than without agendas, itineraries and programs. I prefer to play it by ear, even more so as I get older. Mostly, it has worked out.

Happy holiday to you, Ronni, and to all your dedicated readers. I'm grateful to have found this blog some years ago and to count myself among them.

My sentiments exactly, Ronni.
I’m reminded of what my sister-in-law sometimes says:
“Men make plans—God laughs.”
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Whatever plans I originally had got derailed when I was 17 and went off to college. Having been bullied throughout K-12, I determined that from now on things were going to be different! I was going to become social and popular. I became a "party girl" in '50s parlance. I was good at it, too--with the help of plenty of booze, humor and very little sleep. Although I finished college, I drifted through the next 20 years with two marriages, multiple relationships and numerous jobs. I woke up one day to find that I was 37 with astonishingly little to show for it. That was not the plan!

Recalibration followed. I quit partying, met my now-husband of 42 years, enrolled in graduate school and embarked on a career I should have started in my 20s. For the next 40 years I worked in nonprofit administration. I retired (involuntarily when my agency was defunded) 5 years ago next month.

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