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Planning: A Digression

This is part III of a multipart entry concerning my progress — my status — part II is here.

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

Jesus Christ per the gospel of Saint Thomas the disciple

In the cold light of day I have changed my mind a bit — I don't see a need to go about explicating fully my reasons for going to cooking school — take it as read that I did (and how else are you going to take it?), and let me talk about how it ties in to my planning problem.

For as long as I can remember having any opinion on the matter I have disdained planning. (To cut myself off at the pass — no, I don't think this has anything to do with the fact that my father is a city planner by profession — that is a language curiosity, nothing more. Keep moving, nothing to see here.) I went so far, as I became aware of this line of thinking, at one point as to voice it explicitly as my creed — that it is better, more attractive, to fall into one's situation as it arrives; life [so I proclaimed] is a series of incidents and coincidents, and to try consciously to mold this sequence is ... undesirable. Since the time of this assertion I have engaged in a long and complex dance with this line of thinking — have worn it as a badge of creativity and depth; have internalized and forgotten it; have remembered and resurrected it; have disavowed and repented it — I find it extremely seductive, far moreso than I ever did solipsism (of which more some other time, and not as part of this series) — and equally pernicious.

Why is this? The idea is little more than a thin rationale for lazyness and inaction. I have attempted at times to make it sound like something akin to Buddhism (of which I know very little) or Existentialism (brash arrogance on my part -- the idea is about as far as it's possible to get from the thinking of Sartre, of which I know just a bit more than I know about Buddhism, or of Nietzsche).

But what I want to examine is the results of my thinking this way. I would not say by any means that they have all been bad. I "fell into" my relationship with Ellen, which has had highly desirable consequences. I fell into computer programming, which I enjoy; the caveat is that with effort I think I could have made a better path into programming than the one I took. One thing that I really want to get out of this self-examination is a better path forward in my career. (But getting ahead of myself; more later.) I even "fell into" woodworking, which I love, which I think of on the same level as fatherhood, as one of the best things in my life.

The drawback to thinking this way has been all of the roads not taken, the avenues rejected as requiring of me too acute a degree of direction. I am not going to make a list of these right now — I don't know that I would be able to — but my sense is that there are many such. And I believe at root that I would be a happier person, more fully realized, if I had chosen a path of striving. I write as if that choice were closed off to me but recognize that it is not — as I said above I want to make it and am trying to figure out how.

A final note about the nature of the somnambulistic credo under discussion: I used the terms "attractive" and "undesirable" above, advisedly. My proclamation is not an ethic. I think it is probably an æsthetic, and a sensualist one. A sort of hedonism. — To the extent that it is anything more than an excuse for sloth.

As to the subject at hand, cooking school represented a "path of least resistance" in the sense that I was deferring having to make a decision. I was not really deciding I wanted a career as a chef; trust me on this. Now, back to our regular programming. As I relate the path that brought me here, keep in mind the manner in which I was approaching this path.

posted evening of Saturday, June 14th, 2003
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