I have a confession:
Today I blogged in Starbucks, but I didn’t buy a drink. I feel so guilty that I plan on buying two drinks next time.
I just wrote that sentence as if it’s past tense, but I have another confession:
It’s happening right now. I’m currently sitting in Starbucks writing this blog post, and I don’t intend on buying a drink. I really do feel guilty, though, and I do plan on buying two drinks next time. But my go-to iced chai soy lattes fill me up, so they’re generally my breakfast. This morning, however, I splurged on a bagel with veggie cream cheese and bacon from a New York bagel bakery that I recently discovered. It’s owned by a guy from Queens, NY, and his loud Italian mother runs the cash register, so naturally I’m obsessed. Plus these are the first bagels I’ve had in Virginia that taste as good as bagels and schmear from NYC. What diet?
Anyway, I’m too full to drink a chai latte right now, but I don’t want to write from home because staying home all day makes me lethargic, so that is why I’m taking advantage of Starbucks’ property without ordering a drink. Today is Wednesday, though, which is always my hardest writing day. Hump Day is real. The juices are usually beginning to wane by this point in the week, meaning this post will probably take six hours to complete, in which case I will likely be hungry at some point while I’m here and end up ordering a chai latte after all.
I don’t know why I felt the need to tell you all of that, but there it is.
About a week before he left on deployment, I drove to my husband’s Coast Guard base to eat lunch with him at a picnic table covered in bird poop. It was very romantic. Before arriving, this is how I’d pictured the day unfolding:
- Drive 40 minutes to base
- Husband waiting for me when I pulled up
- Eat our sandwiches at a pretty picnic table
- Stroll in the 75 degree weather down the pier and onto his boat
- Sit and blog in his state room until he finishes work
- Stop by the park on the way home to go on a run
- Eat an avocado and tomato salad for dinner
- Practice the songs I’m performing in a cabaret next weekend
- Write thank you cards and watch New Girl until bedtime
This is how the day actually unfolded:
- Drive 40 minutes to base
- Husband not ready when I arrive
- Husband deciding to leave for the day after lunch, so no blogging on the ship
- Eat our sandwiches at a not-so-pretty picnic table
- Turn right back around and drive 40 minutes home
- Go to Starbucks to write
- Got to the park to run
- Eat fried chicken for dinner
- Write thank you cards while husband does taxes with a boring documentary playing in the background instead of New Girl
- Answer a FaceTime call from a friend in California
- Practice the songs I’m performing in a cabaret next weekend until bedtime
The second half of the day didn’t go so bad, minus the fried chicken and boring documentary. But let me tell you, when I showed up to Aaron’s base only to find out that A) I had to wait in the parking lot for 15 minutes, and B) He was leaving right after lunch, I started sweating in a bad way. I logically knew that neither of these minor changes to my day were a big deal, but they weren’t the plan goshdarnit! Why did I drive all the way up here to see him in the middle of the day if he was coming home early anyway?? Why didn’t he start leaving the ship to meet me when I texted him a 5 minute warning? What if I’m uninspired by the time we finally make it to Starbucks for me to write? Why am I eating so much fried chicken?
I have a very real problem with letting go of plans. If my day is wide open, I’m all about spontaneity, but when I’ve mentally mapped something out, I really resent re-routing. (Unless I’m on a 28 day road trip where I’m mentally prepared to sit in a Safeway parking lot for an hour if my plans don’t fall into place perfectly. That has already happened once in the last four days.) These mental maps can really set you up for disappointment when life gets in the way. That’s actually why I did not allow myself to daydream about my wedding too often during the planning process. I didn’t want to form some sort of expectation in my head that could be a let-down on the Big Day, which is probably why I was so elated as every little moment of bliss unfolded. Now if only I could take that concept and apply it to my daily life.
I think it’s a well known fact that type-A people are more prone to becoming overly attached to the way they picture something in their minds– but why? Why did I care that I had to blog in Starbucks instead of on the ship? I blog at Starbucks every other day, so it’s not like I’m opposed to it. Why did I care if I had to wait 15 minutes for Aaron to meet me? I didn’t have anywhere to be, plus it was 75 degrees outside, so all I had to do was enjoy sunbathing on the trunk of my car. (I do hoodlum things sometimes.) Who cares if we ended up eating fried chicken instead of a salad? The avocados probably weren’t ripe anyway.
I didn’t let myself get overly worked up on the outside on that day because I want my husband to continue loving me, but on the inside– I was reeling.
Our imaginations are powerful vessels. When we’re children, they take us to magical lands of unicorns, cloud surfing, and reenactments of Indian in the Cupboard. As adults, they often take us to unrealistic fantasies of potentially realistic happenings, i.e. “How might the rest of this day transpire?” or “What will this interaction be like?”
There’s a fine line between planning and daydreaming, because we’re only partially in control of what happens to our little lives. We think “planning” leads to xy and z outcomes, while “daydreaming” refers to more impractical thoughts, but truly– any use of the imagination is unreliable in terms of how reality will pan out. Whether it’s planning or daydreaming, your imagination is just your imagination: Forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. (Google definition)
Our imaginations have to be taken with a grain of salt, because they only start spinning about events that have not yet happened, which means we have no idea how things will actually turn out. We can hope, we can plan, we can come up with thousands of scenarios, but ultimately– life will make twists and turns that we can’t predict ahead of time. And if you still have the imagination of child that leads you to fantasy lands full of talking polar bears and chocolate rivers, then you’re in for even more disappointment than the rest of us when reality bops you on the head.
Obviously, I love planning (#5 on this list) and believe in its value. I also love daydreaming, and fully support the creativity, motivation, and excitement that comes as a result. But I need to work on my flexibility when it comes to how these mental behaviors mesh with reality. I’ve done a pretty good job teaching myself to be flexible when it comes to vacation itineraries or major events, but my attachment to little, daily plans is the area I’ve neglected. I don’t get stressed every single time something alters my plans for the day, but occasionally– like the day I outlined above– I have to actively force myself to not overreact.
Ah, there’s always something to work on about ourselves, isn’t there? But that’s the beauty of life! Growth, change, and the occasional piece of fried chicken.
P.S.- This post came together faster than expected, so I am, in fact, leaving Starbucks without ordering a drink.