Delight Is Most Usually Unexpected… If You Are Paying Attention

July 9, 2023 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Life presents her finest self in the guise of unexpected and unanticipated events.” Journal Entry, 7/3/23

I once was a dedicated life/business planner. Planners think with “the end in mind.” What results do I seek for myself or for my family or for my career? These are indeed good questions.

But all we can really plan for is limited to the big picture: some high-level end result. What we cannot plan for are the unknowns that most assuredly arise. The old phrase always rings true: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And it is in the “what you don’t” that can be discovered the real magic. Results you never saw coming, both trials and immensely surprising joys.

Surprised by Delight

I married Pam for a host of reasons but, for me, having a child was not one of them. I was almost thirty-seven and rather ambivalent about being a father—I could take it or leave it. And THEN, in 1992 when I was forty-two, Austin was born. Yikes! I have never known such immense pleasure!

As I have grown older (73) I plan quite differently. I still plan, but loosely. I am comfortable with broad compass headings such as north, as in True North. Although I may be certain that my end objective may be a good one, I have discovered that my end goal doesn’t matter a whole lot.

That’s because it is about all those surprises along the way.

A View from the Museum

Just a couple of days ago Pam and I were in Los Angeles watching Austin’s team (the Pirates) play the Dodgers. Before our drive home, we decided to visit the world-famous Broad Museum which was across the street from our hotel.

I journaled on that experience…

As much as I am drawn to planning with the end in mind, I still must always consider the wonder of the unexpected. Like today at the Broad. Having already visited the museum a couple of times, I have an idea of what most likely will occur. However, there are so many variables to consider, I can never be sure. If all things go according to plan…

That’s the point, isn’t it? If all things go according to plan… but how many things go according to plan? Much like Rosanne Cash speaking of “catching a song,” not writing it. We “catch” life when we fall into that state of observation, of paying attention.  

When I live in an observation state of mind, I am paying attention, all the time. This requires less planning and more responding.

It is possible to imagine the overall, high-level feelings of an event. But I have no anticipation of what may occur at that event. I am awash in constant fresh encounters with people and circumstances and settings. Everyday offers an adventure. In the particulars, things are fresh and new and delightful, but in the general, most things are familiar and went as was expected (or not).

Yes, we can schedule events, but the details of that event will always be different than anything imagined. For in the minute-by-minute execution of a planned event will be discovered the awe-inspiring and often unexpected “now.”

Always Be Prepared

Always Pay Attention

Photo courtesy of gorodenkoff at istockphoto

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