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Ganging Agley

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
Robert Burns, To A Mouse

Life seems curiously analogous to a thirteen year old, fully capable of intruding upon her self; setting off on one certain trajectory only to ricochet onto another, then another, then yet another. I don’t know who proposed that plans should ‘turn out,’ but their’s was one short-sighted, perhaps naive idea. Though most otherwise sentient adults insist that success involves manifesting aspirations into actualities, this occurs so rarely that lady luck gives better odds. Might as well ‘invest’ in the lottery.

We each know this simple truth, and know it over-well from personal experience. We’ve seen our intentions humbled, our hopes crash and burn, but there must be something working overtime inside most of us that keeps our aspiration fires burning in spite of frequent disappointing downpours. At any time, life can intrude upon our carefully-planned life and knock it off our diligently-designed rails. Any time at all.

These shoves happen infrequently enough that we seem endlessly surprised at these perfectly predictable experiences. Then, coping becomes the issue. Resilience, I suppose, might distill into a rough ability to rapidly concoct a story to replace the discredited one. Maybe we get over life’s intrusions on life by creating a new plausible fiction with a distant-enough horizon to carry our hopefulness a while before life intrudes on our plan again.

The planned life isn’t much of a life at all. We are fully capable of creating plans which cast long-enough shadows to prevent any presence from sprouting. We can comfortably exist in the reassuring shadow of our self-cast future without ever noticing that it’s comprised of nothing but notions, a self-recharging siphon of expectations. Hearts can break whenever some light intrudes into this shadowland.

But eyes also squint open then. We might never see so clearly as when we find ourselves on our knees, stunned at the audacity of life’s latest intrusion into our formerly secure life plan. The most important things might happen at the least convenient times.

Not even the 6:15 for Silver Spring can deflect life’s insistent intruding. I’m learning to more fully appreciate these jangling wake-up calls. They certainly qualify, not as the problems they seem to be, but, rather, as eternal features of every everyday life.

Life kicks in after the expected fails.

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