Monday, March 28, 2016

Word of the Week - 108

Art by Lisa Congdon, from The Reconstructionists.

Word(s) of the Week: PLAN B

In things both great and small, one finds reprieve and deliverance by having made, in advance, a second choice.  That it was second does not proclaim it lesser.  Often it turns out to be the preferred option, which is only known when Plan A falls through or vanishes like the mirage it may have always been.  In my experience, the potential for self-delusion is without limit.

Plans B (or Plan Bs) demand invention, improvisation.  They allow us to act out our frequently under-employed talents as magicians, those clever sorts who can save a fallen souffle or fashion the missing element of a incomplete Halloween costume, moments before the curtain rises.  A classic Plan B invariably requires the replacement or circumvention of a missing essential.  Dropped the keys to the getaway car?  Plan B.  Broken zipper, power outage, balky printer, insufficient funds, etc., Plan B.  Priority Mail (flat rate) is a procrastinator's ideal fall-back.  The panache to pull off eccentric choices in hair or make-up or clothing can disguise Plan B fixes.

So many of our expectations turn out to be unrealistic fantasies, leaving two choices: withering with disappointment for an extended period, like forever, or acknowledging that we are stuck with IT, whatever IT is, and would be wise to go back into the huddle and come up with an alternative play.  The truth is that life frequently has plans that bear no resemblance to ours, though they may turn out to be ultimately preferable.

I don't recall seeing the word "flexibility" on a list of classic virtues, though it belongs there with patience, generosity and courage, as a means to overcome adversity and lack.  For us, masters of Plan B, there is a sufficiency, regardless of how it first appears.


Kass said...

...reminds me of a section of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Until It's Time For You to Go":

This love of mine had no beginning, it has no end
I was an oak, now I'm a willow, now I can bend
And though I'll never, in my life, see you again
Still I'll stay, until it's time for you to go.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - In 1968 my best friend loved that Buffy Sainte-Marie album, I still remember these words. We know what happened if we don't bend, don't adapt. It may be our most basic life skill, our most essential. Good Monday morning to you and your music. xo