Monday, March 28, 2016

Sibling Assignment #179: I'm a Lousy Planner

I'll begin by saying that this post is my 3400th at kellogg bloggin.

Christy gave us this assignment to write about:

"As spring lurks somewhere around the corner, it is time to think about gardening. Each of us have had different experiences with gardening at different locations. What we have all learned is there is a huge learning curve when it comes to gardening. What lessons have you learned from gardening? Share about a particular plant, gardening as a whole, or whatever you want."

Christy has learned patience through gardening and, unlike me, she is an expert planner.  Her post is here.  I'll post a link to Carol's piece as soon as she writes it.

I am a lousy planner.

In a world where experts in every field from finances to education hammer away at the idea that strategic plans, firm goals, and envisioning a future and then making it happen are the keys to success, I am crippled by being terrible at seeing very far beyond the present moment I am currently experiencing.

When I used to grow flowers, I was a lousy planner.

I loved putting plants in the ground and I enjoyed feeding and watering them. I was a lousy weeder, but not completely negligent.

I could never see into the future and picture what my flowers were going to look like and how they would look in relation to each other.

I used to walk around Eugene and marvel at different gardens and how the colors were in perfect relation to one other and how the gardens were planted so that each flower had its own place and could be seen and enjoyed.

My flower areas had a lot of color -- and I enjoyed that -- but they lacked design. Now, I admit:  I liked this. I enjoyed the randomness of how my flowers looked and enjoyed that there was very little that was predictable in my yard.

As it turned out, gardening was a pretty good source of self-examination and evaluation for me. I came to realize that my unplanned gardens were very much like the way I live my life.

I never planned out a retirement. Yes, I have some money stashed away, and, yes, I earned a pension, but the decision to retire came instantaneously, almost out of the blue, and when I saw that our family would not be crippled by my retirement, I went for it.

My retirement was not the culmination of years of careful planning and, as a result, executed with precision and foresight.

I pretty much fell into it.

Today, I was reading about what good photographers do. Although the article didn't use the word "plan", underlying the article was the unspoken idea that a person just might take better images by planning outings -- planning when the light will be best, planning when, say, flowers or waterfalls are the most photogenic, planning when and where to take portraits to make one's subjects look their best.

I'm aware that many great photographers plan their shots, anticipate what they went the image to look like, and adjust their settings and compose the image in the viewfinder to successfully bring that picture into being.

I'm terrible at all of this. I never plan for light. I grab my camera and go -- usually when I go is dictated more by other things in my life like getting shopping done, taking care of the dogs, finishing up errands, etc. than it is by planning for the best picture taking conditions.

It means that when I look at the pictures I took, there is always an element of surprise.  I'm usually taking pictures based on feelings I have about subject in the moment, or based on what I think the lighting conditions are giving me, but I'm never sure what to expect. It means that I am subject, often, to the unpredictability of luck.

Likewise, I rarely looked at a bunch of flowers I planted and said to myself: "Oh! That's exactly how I thought these flowers would look together."


I was always being surprised and I was always determined to see the way I planted things as being good, even if what I did failed to conform to with well-established ways of growing flowers.

Similarly, when I take pictures and look at them, my mind goes blank as far as what I've read makes a good composition. I can't follow the rules because as I look into my viewfinder, I suddenly have amnesia about the rules. Likewise, when I look at pictures, all the things I've read about leading lines and the rule of thirds and foreground and background disappear from my mind and I find myself enjoying a wide variety of pictures and lack much of rationale for why I like this or that image.

Now, as a renter, I have no garden space, no place to stick flowers almost randomly in the ground, no place to fail to plan but plant a garden anyway.

Not gardening opens up more time for me to fail to plan other parts of my life and enjoy unplanned walks with my camera, unplanned stops to the store, and unplanned times of rest and relaxation.

For those of you who find my lack of mad planning skills irritating, let me just say that for each of you I try. I do my best.

Just like I did in the garden.

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