Thursday, June 19, 2008

The 25 Year Plan, Re-Loaded

The 25 Year Plan, with its 333 published posts and, at about 2 ½ years of age, has evolved over its short life. Originally a place to post my musings on “perspectives, purpose and opinion,” it is still that, but the scope of where these loosely defined subtexts has taken me is growing ever wider. So much so that it has recently occurred to me that this blog’s name makes little sense anymore - even to me. Put into context, and to be perfectly honest, it did not make a great deal of sense even at the beginning except in a paradoxical, ironic or, perhaps, a sarcastic sense.

For those who were not around at the beginning, or for those who do not wish to wade through the thousands of words that have been posted here, allow me to provide a modicum of historical context. Because the blog’s history is inspired by and is an extension of my own, it will be necessary to look back a little more than 25 years. Indeed, the “plan” part of the 25 Year Plan is nothing of the sort. If I had set out to be where I am today when I graduated high school in 1981, I would have chosen a much less traumatic path. The end result of having no plan at all is the convoluted course my life took. The title, “The 25 Year Plan” is an exaggeration of a euphemism popular when I attended San Diego State University in the early to mid 80s.

When the question regarding one’s class or graduation date came up, often the answer accounted for more than the four years it was expected to complete an undergraduate degree. Often, immediately following the answer of “I’m a junior,” or “I’ll graduate in…” would be the qualifier: “But I’m on the ‘five-year’ plan.” Because I registered late and had difficulty landing the classes I needed to graduate on time, right from the start the five-year plan sounded like a dandy plan to me. I mean, what was the hurry - I already waited for two years after high school to enroll. I was only 20 years old. It worked for me - I was not alone. But in a sense, I was.

Even with all the obstacles that made, for many, a four-year journey one year longer, the five-year plan they bandied about did have some substance. They actually did have a plan, and many completed their goal in five - and for a few, a few more - years. My five-year plan was an excuse - a stall tactic that I apparently subconsciously appropriated to buy time. I was ostensibly there to pursue a degree in computer science, but I was never really excited about it… or anything else really. I was still waiting for that big break; you know - the one that would deliver to me wealth, modest fame and esteem with no real effort on my part. My “plan” was to wait around (impatiently) for it to come to me.

Oddly enough, it worked. But it took 25 plus years; and although good breaks did just land in my lap from time to time, they never stayed very long. Without effort, commitment and perseverance… without work, nothing was satisfying and nothing good lasted very long. I found the hard way that all the luck in the world will not produce any lasting peace. My plan was an acute lack of any planning, or at least the planning necessary to pursue a goal. All I could ever envision was the destination - all along blasting through the journey. I was hell bent for the finish line and in October 2000, I almost found it. (Click here to read about the specifics).

The only destination in life is death. It is the ultimate terminus - no one is exempt. In my desire to live a life of carefree luxury, I never placed any value on the journey and as a result, nothing was ever worth very much. I had a sense of not only materialistic entitlement, but also an idea that I was supposed to be happy - just because. Although I felt that materialistic wealth and happiness were closely associated, I found that I could never seem to acquire enough to put me there. Enough never was. As it turns out, peace and contentment require effort as well. At least for me, freedom never came cheap.

When this blog was born, I was already on the path to enlightenment. That near-death experience I had in 2000 was the beginning of the end. But it wasn’t over yet. There were many obstacles left to overcome, not the least of which was a protracted hospitalization followed by many months of rehabilitation. But by the fall of 2003, I entered a community college with a new, but untested, perspective. As my journey took priority, I began to enjoy life on a daily basis and, ironically it seems, I was able to look to the future in a more realistic manner. I was developing a plan.

In the fall of 2005, I enrolled at the California State University, Sacramento. This blog was an attempt to keep my literary juices flowing during the five-week break between semesters. My now proven outlook on life did not have me looking forward to a vacation of that length. In the past 2 ½ years I have seen… strike that, I have earned many successes. The effect has been lasting. I am still happy, the accomplishments are still mine and nothing can ever take it away. There is no possible way the peace I have gained can slip away; it can’t be spent, lost, stolen or tarnished. So, did the 25 Year Plan work?



kenju said...

So - what will you name the new blog?

flleenie said...

Well, that depends, did you attain your original goal? If so, then...


craziequeen said...

Hey Mike - still plenty of years left......

I read your story and saw the newspaper articles - wow, we all have a story...some are more stunning than others!

Michele sent me to learn more about Mr Althouse :-)


Star said...

I have to say ir. -I love it when a plan comes together-. As always, Mr. A. , so eloquently said. Michele sent me.

Snaggle Tooth said...

From the 5 year plan to the 25 Year Plan, your destiny landed you where you are regardless-
Interesting n ironic that a non-plan could work so well to find you happy.
Attaining goals that can't be taken away is definately key to feeling good about life.
Looks like alot of bloggers answered the "Why?" question recently...