When clients reach out or retain us, their first question is most often about timing or needing to know the “exact” plan. We are all different … we are all on our own journey. This is a beautiful thing. Society’s systems treat us as “one size fits all” … and this can short-change us from having our own experience. It might be overwhelming to “un-plan” and start to work with what you have and where you are right now, but this will allow you to be fully connected to the moment. You will be able to make the most of any experience when you are present in the here and now … whether it’s a celebration, a challenging meeting, lunch with a friend, or something that has completely hijacked your day.
Alternatively, we can do the planning, and buy into a “magic bullet” or a promise from someone else. But even after all that, we will still be met with unexpected obstacles, failures and mistakes (lessons), shifts, new opportunities and skills, aha moments, and other twists and turns. You are meant to have your own experience, in your own time! This allows you to embrace your journey, and approach everything with brighter eyes, and an open heart and mind. Instead of spending your time and money (life) making a plan, embrace what is, enjoy it, be vulnerable, struggle through it, learn, and apply the lessons so that you can live your best life.
Welcome to Holland, an essay by Emily Perl Kingsley sheds light on why we need to let go of our collective urge to plan everything and live with great presence and connection.
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.