The older I get the more aware I become of the truth that drives the many and varied philosophical cliches that pepper my day. They are so frequent and so subtle, and are usually delivered as a passing thought, that they barely register. But at present one seems to be stuck in my head and is becoming increasingly noticeable – the same way, I guess, that whenever you buy a new car, suddenly there are loads of them around – it’s the one about acknowledging that life is a journey and that the journey is more important than the destination.
I like to plan. At any given point in the day I’ll know what I’m doing next and likely have an approximate time in mind. This is not always a good thing (I can get a bit restless if my timings aren’t going to plan) but most of the time it helps me achieve some semblance of being a grown up.
I tell myself that this is all because I have a bad memory and if I don’t have a plan I’ll forget to do something, or forget to be somewhere. I use my calendar and to do lists heavily and, as a result, my brain is usually filled with time driven cues to help me remember to do things; ‘I’ll leave at 6pm so I’m home for 6.30pm and it’ll only take me 30mins to do the hoovering then I can …’, it sounds a bit anal I know but it’s a system that’s worked for me for a long time.
More recently I’ve been wondering if there is more to it than that. Perhaps the reason I like to plan my days and ‘near future’ weeks is because I know there isn’t much point planning that much further ahead. Even things like ‘go on holiday’ are broken down into the things to do today, and the things to do tomorrow. Beyond that I know the weeks will come towards me as they always have, and always will (that’s not meant to sound profound, just stating the facts). In other words, I know there isn’t any point planning things in great detail too soon as life will, inevitably, crap all over that nonsense whenever it gets the chance.
Oddly, the one thing I’ve never had is a plan for my life. I’m very much led by my emotions and I guess I’ve been lucky to be where I am today. Looking back there are some decisions which I would’ve made differently, of course, but I wouldn’t change them.
In the past my lack of planning was more down to how I reacted to what I thought were expectations or hopes that others were placing on me. Life seemed almost pre-ordained back then – go to college, get a job, get married, have kids – but then life started throwing some curveballs and it slowly started to sink in that while it’s good to have dreams and aspirations, and you absolutely should plan to try and meet them, life will ALWAYS throw you some curveballs. I think it’s how you deal with the curveballs that really defines who you are, not where you are, how much you earn, or what your ‘social status’ is.
It’s not been an easy, or quick, lesson for me, but the last couple of years have found me realising a lot about myself as I try and understand and empathise with others on their journey. As mine hasn’t been planned, I guess I’ve used the ‘near future’ planning to give myself a comfort zone to stop me worrying about what might happen in the months to come.
More recently, as my relationships evolve and grow, I’ve been trying to find the balance with my partners journeys, seeking out where I can help, where I should support, and where I’m not needed.
Being poly means I have to understand that everyone has a different journey and we are all at different points at different times. Not only are we different ages, but we have different jobs, different passions, different outlooks on some things. We all come from different backgrounds and places and have been through different life experiences.
Looking at where I am in my life, and where my partners are in theirs, it’s clear that whilst we are all on a similar path, we are on different journeys. It’s a subtle realisation, but I find myself changing my position at times depending on where I think one of my partners is on that given day, it’s a soft switch from ‘I will always be right beside you’ view to ‘I will always support your decisions’. One is very much based on journey proximity, the other on understanding and acceptance of our journeys being different.
Right now we are all on the same path, even if our journeys take us on little detours from time to time, we seem to be finding our way back to each other. Of all the things that polyamory has given me, this is probably one of the slowest realised but most delightful.
We are a family.