I am the man with the unplan. What is the unplan? The unplan
is simple: my long range plans are firmly set in jello, and are therefore
subject to revision, reversal, and massive change. Although I know who
I am and where I am going, I don't have any long term plans set in concrete.
My life is full of maybes, perhaps, and possibilities, but real long range
plans are clearly out of the question. Three of my colleagues who had
long term plans are no longer alive, and the handwriting is on the wall and
in clear focus. The message says, "Today is the only day I have, and I
need to make it count for something good."
I used to be a man with a plan, When I was halfway through college, I
made a plan to go to medical school, and I did it right on schedule.
But after that, the unplan took over. When I was an
intern, I planned to become a pathologist, but instead, I became
an eye surgeon. I planned to practice general
ophthalmology, and instead became a retina and vitreous surgeon. I
made a plan to work overseas in Saudi Arabia for five years, and instead
stayed for eleven years before I set sail on the ocean of my dreams. I
planned to spend two years sailing around the world on my yacht, and it took eleven
more years to complete my
Life has been full of twists, turns, and reverses, and it's easy to see why
I am the man with the unplan. I didn't realize I was the man with
the unplan until I had a car accident in New Zealand. When I rolled
the van I was driving, I broke two legs, five ribs, one scapula, and I
punctured one lung. I spent nine days in the intensive care unit, had
three operations, and received seven units of blood - all of this was
quite unplanned. I stayed in the hospital for two months and gradually
regained my ability to walk. It took six months to be able to bend
my right knee ninety degrees, and that made it difficult to climb on and
off my yacht.
While I was hobbling around on crutches in Whangerei, New Zealand, I passed
a real estate office that had an advertisement in the window for waterfront
property - one kilometer of ocean frontage. At the bottom of the
advertisement were the words, "For long term plans." I looked at those
words and burst out laughing. Those words - long term plans - were
massively presumptuous in the world in which I lived. In my world, I
didn't know if I would ever walk normally again. Skipping and running
were out of the question. First, I had to progress from hobbling to
limping. Even my trip around the world on my sailboat was up in the air;
I didn't know when or if it would ever continue.
I realized then and there that I was the man with the unplan. Although
I had a general direction to my life, and I had a list of things a mile long I wanted to do, I no longer had
solid plans or even a schedule. My life
was full of possiblities, but long term plans were a thing of the past.
When you are fifty old, and you don't know how much time you have left, you
leave the long term plans to young whippersnappers who feel like they are
Since that time, I have been living more in the moment. I have a
general direction to my unplanned existence. I planed to sail across the
Atlantic Ocean sometime in November, December, or January, conditions
permitting. I will probably cruise in the Caribbean from January to
June, and then I will arrive back in the USA in June, July, or August.
That's my unplan.
The truth is, I was never very good at squeezing my life into any type of mold,
and plans are sometimes the most restrictive molds of all . Anyway, the
majority of my plans have turned out different, maybe even better, than
I had hoped. So I have decided to stick with my unplan and
see what happens. One thing you know for certain, we will be surprised when we see how
it all turns out.
By the way, God, if you happen to be listening, I would appreciate it if you
would extend my unwitting and unplanned existence for another forty or fifty
years, because there is so much to do and so little time, and I want to make
the next fifty years into a real adventure. I promise I will do better
this time. Amen.