I was pressed with a thought yesterday. I think thoughts almost continually, sometimes this is planning which is good, often it is plotting with is very, very bad.
Planning is wise stewardship of the time you’ve been given to ensure you don’t squander even a moment. It does no good to be in an unplanned moment spinning your proverbial wheels and cleaning up unnecessary messes that could have been avoided with just a wee bit of forethought.
Plotting is poor stewardship of time because it centers on trying to relive the past or prelive the future. When you plot it looks a little like role-playing. You get done with a particular frame of your story and instead of moving on to the next frame, you freeze-frame. You stay in a regret or a remembrance mulling it over again and again in your mind. I suppose it would looking something like a heifer in a pasture chewing her cud, swallowing it, regurgitating it, re-chewing it, re-swallowing it, and re-regurgitating it, repeating this cycle for hours on end. When life become full of re-re-re-re’s time is lost, moments forfeited to broken tape-recorders in our head stuck on repeat.
But plotting is not just trying to relive the past; it is trying to prelive the future. This is where role-playing takes on a more evil and sinister face. Let me try to explain. There are times when I catch myself daydreaming about another person or situation or event placing myself in a fictional story of my own making pre-living out the scenario before it happens. I will fantasize about what I’m going to say if they say this, or what I’m going to do if they pull this stunt, and so on and so forth.
The inner dialogue goes something like this: “When I see him I’m going to give him a piece of my mind. Why I’m going tell him what’s what and who’s who. I’m not gonna take any crap. And if he responds by turning our conversation toward that topic I’m going to turn that tactic right back on his own head by telling him this, that or the other thing. Who does he think he is and where does he get off misunderstanding the situation and spreading his misinterpretation to others. Someone needs to put an end to this and dagnabbet that someone is gonna be me. He hasn’t seen the first of my feelings on this issue and the days of playing mister nice guy are over. I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind once and for all and let the chips fall where they may. I’m done. I’m done I tell ya’!” And this is the edited version truth be told.
It can lead into hours of role-playing these “all bark and no bite” conversations and situations that steal from the moment we’re in and fill our lives with “fictional heroism” and “virtual strength”. It’s easy to believe this is bringing more control into our lives, but it is really wasting our lives away in made-up drivel.
Worrying about what people think, what so and so said to so and so, wondering about where you stand and how that stacks up in comparison to other people’s picture of reality…all these things steal, kill and destroy your life. In leadership journals they refer to it as the “meeting after the meeting”. The discussion that people are having after the official meeting adjourns. We can get caught wondering about what people are saying and who they are saying it to and the viral spread of “who knows what” to own demise. But it can also be the “meeting before the meeting” that takes you out. This is where paranoia sets in and with it, relational rigamortis. We are frozen in a state of fear like petrified wood, once living and growing, now hardened and rock-like.
And the killer is the moments we lose in the meantime. Hours are spent in make-believe words of control, producing and directing the drama of our life without living it. We are legends in our own minds or losers in our minds. It matters very little which conclusion you come to, you’re not living, and to Satan that’s all that matters.
Time, real time and people, real people, are forfeited as you give yourself over to “feedback loops” in your own head.
I confess my own difficulty with managing this cancer. Sometimes I feel like I’m in remission, other times I feel like I’m in stage 4 being kept alive by nothing more than the will to live. And life, abundant life, is about as real to me as an imaginary friend. An illusion that is talked about, but never apprehended.
I want to break free from this default. I must find freedom from this “reliving and preliving” of life. This plotting and scheming. This role-playing that seeks to replace playing.
I want to present myself to the present and drink deep of its nectar. For it isn’t long before the nectar of today ferments into the poison of “yesterday or tomorrow”.
The manna rots and starts to stink, for it was meant to be daily bread. If it is not gathered today and eaten today, it spoils.