Best-Laid Plans

“Do you have any plans for Canada Day?”

I asked, and was asked, this question several times on Sunday while I was at work. Some people were going for hikes or bike rides. Some people were having parties or visiting friends. Some people were going to partake in the festivities at the community centre.

I had zero plans for Canada Day this year. My sister and three of her friends came up to visit and hung out during the day while I was at work, and afterwards I made us dinner, and cake, and we had a lovely visit. I even got to bed at a reasonable time. To be perfectly honest, it was like any other weekend, with no special plans.

I felt a little guilty at first. I mean, it’s a special holiday. We should be doing something to celebrate. But I realized that I didn’t actually feel bad at all. For me, taking a break from planning actually is something special. I’m a chronic organizer. I have to-do lists for my to-do lists. I’m constantly thinking four, five days in advance, planning meals, organizing lists, and arranging errands around my work schedule. I have a whiteboard in my house for spur of the moment rememberings, and an app on my phone to organize my lists when I’m out. I am forever and always making plans.

But I’ve discovered some of the best things can emerge when all my carefully laid plans go completely out the window.

I’m a comically bad gardener. I’ve tried every one of the four years we’ve been in Pemberton to grow a successful garden, and the results have been less than formidable. I carefully plan out my gardens and flower beds. I research which types of veggies and flowers should go where and the conditions they need. I spend time planting, and watering, and fertilizing. And things never go as I plan. Take this picture for example.


This is the container where I planted some flower seeds at the end of spring in a beautiful sunny spot with fresh dirt. Where nothing took root and grew. And yet just beside this perfect container, growing out of nearly straight gravel, is a beautiful flower. Where did this come from? How did it get here? And how is it growing so vigorously with absolutely no attention from me? Does this make me frustrated? No. (Okay, for a brief second, maybe.) Instead I am wondrously amused at how beauty can come out of plans that go haywire.

My best example of this is our arrival in Pemberton. Before my boyfriend Nathan and I moved here four years ago, I had never been to Pemberton. We had plans to move to Vancouver Island once a long-awaited position came available for Nathan, and we were just waiting for the opportunity to unfold. We had carefully laid plans. So imagine my surprise when Nathan calls me at work one day and tells me to start looking at properties in either Squamish, Whistler, or Pemberton because he’d been offered a position based out of Whistler. Less than a month later we were moving, and six months later we found what we hope is our forever home. Did we plan for that? Definitely not. But beauty emerged in the form of this lovely town that we’ve fallen head over heels in love with, and now can’t imagine leaving.

As appreciated as this break in planning was this weekend, I won’t be hanging up my trusty to-do lists just yet. I’ll keep planning, and stay very aware that, as the poet Robert Burns said, the best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.

And when they do, I’ll be ready to appreciate the beauty that will surely unfold.