The Five Year Plan
I had a friend (hopefully the first of many to grace this house!) over to the new home last night to check out the place and to enjoy some post-run refreshments. We were both in somewhat of a reflective mood, as she has just taken major steps into the next phase of her life and is moving on from the end of a relationship and I am looking around at where I am and contrasting it with where I was.
I looked over at her. “You know, if anyone had posed the question, ‘Where do think you’ll be in five years?’ to me five years ago, I would never have imagined this,” shaking my head with a bemused smile. “How about you, how would you have responded?”
Our answers were telling.
On my part, I was (or actually, thought I was) happily married five years ago. I was enjoying our new deck and hot tub and marveling at how much the trees I had planted had grown over the previous summer. I was frustrated in my job, but had no desire to leave teaching. Rather, I was contemplating the (very scary) decision to make the leap to switch to another school. My life was stable and so was my five year plan.
I saw me at a new school. Perhaps my husband at a new company. I saw the final tweaks on the home we created, freeing up money for more travel. I saw the marriage continuing as it was, solid yet far from boring. I envisioned myself with more balance, yet I was not making any life adjustments to make it happen. I pictured my life continuing in a linear fashion, the future being a slightly better version of my present.
Of course, life laughed at my plans, turning my linear progression into a chaotic mass of ups and downs. It’s funny, though, as I reflect today, I’ve actually ended up pretty much where I wanted. I am just a few weeks shy of being happily married. I have a home I love and I am enjoying the process of personalizing it. I have made a positive change in my job and I certainly have much more balance. And, the crazy part is that the reality of now is so much better than what I could have imagined five years ago.
As for my friend, a five year rewind took her to the time of her divorce. In contrast to my stability at that period, hers was a time of upheaval and change. Her five year plan at the time had her remarried to a man who would take care of her, emotionally and financially. Like me, life laughed at her plans. She has dated, but not yet married. Her financial security has been tested as she left one career to return to school for another. Now that she is making inroads on her own business, she is realizing that success you create on your own is so much more satisfying than relying on the income of another.
As we sat out on the porch, we contemplated where the next five years will take us. It’s funny, when I pose that question to my thirteen year old students, they respond with such certainty. They still believe in the power of wishes. Even when I answered that same question five years ago, I thought I could control the trajectory of my life.
I have no freaking clue where I’ll be in five years.
I know what I want. I want to be in a thriving marriage (with Brock, let me just clarify that one for you, oh weaver of life!). I want us to still be in good health and to continue to enjoy our active lifestyle. I want my home to be filled with the laughter of friends and the love of a good dog. I want to sit on my porch and marvel at how the plantings have grown. I would love to be done with teaching, but to be okay if I still am. I want to have the resources to travel but to always want to come home. I want balance and peace.
The truth? The only items on the list I can control are the last two. I can find balance and peace regardless of the rest. But, please, don’t make me have to!:)
The evening concluded with a decision to pen our five year plans and to bury them in the yard, to be opened five years hence. I’m sure our time capsule will reveal many surprises and laughs, with plenty of bemused head shaking. All assuming that I still have the same yard, of course:)