Always be prepared. The Boy Scouts have been pushing this kind of philosophy for years and it really does make a lot of sense. You’ll have a far easier time surviving in the middle of the woods when you already know how to set up a shelter, start a fire or forage for food. At the same time, we have to be careful not to take this line of thinking too far. It’s good to be ready, but you can’t possibly plan for every possible situation.
The Overstuffed Suitcase
Earlier this year, I wrote about some things to keep in mind when packing for a trip. You take a look at the weather report and it shows that it might rain, so you pack an umbrella. You might also go on that hike, so you pack a pair of hiking boots. Oh, and then there’s the beach, so you’ll need to pack some sandals, a beach towel, swim trunks and sunscreen lotion too.
Inevitably what happens is that you barely end up using half of what you pack and you spend far too much time rummaging through your bags to find the things that you need. When you pack just a little bit less, you’ll have an easier time navigating around the airport or train station. When you pack just a little bit less, you can focus more on your experiences rather than stressing about finding this item or that. If it rains, you can buy a cheap umbrella. If you’re going to the beach, you can bring the hotel towel.
The Pack Rat Philosophy
I have a lot of stuff. Most of this comes about because I’ll encounter this item or that and I’ll think to myself, “Oh, that might come in handy some day.” I’m a self-admitted pack rat, planning for what might come up later on. This helps when I turn around to sell some things on Craigslist, as I’ll normally still have the original box and instructions, but it also leads to a fair bit of mostly unnecessary clutter.
Part of this comes from the mentality of minimizing waste. It feels so wasteful to simply throw something away that could be of value down the road. What I really should be doing instead is donating a lot of this stuff to local charities. I am trying.
The Ideal Birth Story
Perhaps the biggest change of my life is right around the corner. As we are getting ready for the arrival of our baby, I’ve been bombarded with all sorts of advice and information. Some people tell me this and other people tell me the exact opposite. And one major lesson that we’ve been able to take away from our prenatal classes is that things very rarely go exactly according to plan.
Instead, what we talk about is an “ideal” birth story. In an ideal world with ideal situations, how would we like the birth to proceed? Would we like to be at home or at the hospital? What (if any) medications are going to be used? Of course, life will always throw you a curve ball (or three). What this means is that we must be willing to adapt this ideal plan to the real world circumstances, prioritizing the aspects of the birth story that mean the most to us.
And it is with this kind of perspective, perhaps, that we should approach all aspects of our life.
You Should Still Make Plans
Just because things rarely work out exactly how you plan doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make plans at all. It goes right back to those Boy Scouts again. You can’t possibly plan for every possible contingency, but you can get yourself in a position that are best prepared for whatever life may throw at you. And even if you don’t quite end up where you thought you would, you can feel confident that you did what you could.