In high school, Mom gave me this exercise: write out your 25-year plan. She got it from some book–the point was to write out what you want your life to be like in 25 years. Then, with those goals in mind write out what you would need to accomplish in 15 years, 10 years, 5, 3 and one year from that day.
At fifteen, what did I know about 25 years away? I wrote down things like, be married, have kids, be graduated from college, be happy, be beautiful.
Of course, I was sure that all those things would have been done and put on the shelf in ten years, tops.
It is now 25 years from when I made my first 25-year plan. I now think that my15 year old self has as much visibility into my 40 year old life as I probably have into the life of me as a 65 year old.
The point was, what my mom was trying to teach me, was that all the things we do have an impact on our tomorrows. Mom, I love you, but that lesson I already knew far better than you did. I was always thinking ahead, always scanning the horizon.
And I was SHOCKED when you went back to school and talked professors into extending your deadlines for homework. I would have fallen on my sword and taken the ‘honorable’ failing grade before asking for a special favor. Which meant of course, that I never did turn things in late. I wished I could talk my way around professors like that. Except, by the time I really had that thought, that I wished I could get away with stuff, I had lost all respect for professors and higher education. If they were so easily gotten around, what was their value?
Back to scanning the horizon. Where is the real treasure?
I know myself better than I did at a 15 year old. Starting with me, what life would I fashion for myself to live in before during and after 25 years pass?
I asked Chris about this, sheepishly. His upbringing did not include this sort of soul-searching I was sure.
He answered immediately “We will need to put a new roof on the house.”
Roll-my-eyes prosaic. Was that all he could think of? Except, he is right. And we have discussed that we want to stay in this house forever. Having a solid roof is an important aspect to our lives.
He went on “…and we will want to have that done before we put solar panels in. It would be silly to put solar up and then have to take it down to redo the whole roof.”
The practical things gave some structure to this discussion. Maybe we want to plan on a new roof in five years. And if we want that, maybe we should plan other expenses around these big ones.
“When do you think Veronica will be the right age to take her to Hawaii?” Because travel is an important aspect of the next 25 years.
We talked practical, which is what Chris is the best at, and then also more abstract goals and desires.
I know that taking the long view will help shape my choices for today. Also, taking the long view will also make today a part of a whole.
I can’t be the only one–the only one whom life overwhelms and frustrates and annoys to distraction. When I have a petty or heart-stabbing encounter with a co-worker, or aNOTher ridiculous battle with a mighty four year old over bedtime or mealtime, I can escape into my own life–my plans for my life.
If she wastes toothpaste, or he hides a password during a deployment, will it matter in 25 years? Or 15, 10, 5, 3 or one year? Maybe it doesn’t matter so much today either.
I am looking at the horizon. There is some great stuff coming up.