When The Plan Becomes The Problem

I have a problem.

I’ve come to recognize that my greatest strength is also my biggest weakness and I am suffocating under its weight.

I think too much.

My excessive thinking is getting in my way, and I need my mind to take several seats so I can grab the wheel and put the damn gear in DRIVE.

I like to plan. I get an idea, and I plan its execution. I think about how it can connect to other ideas and people, and causes greater than itself, and its legacy, and its color scheme, and its location, and its target demographic, etc. I talk about it and get people to rally behind. I make it a binder, with dividers, and sheet protectors, and a cover page to slide in the little transparent front insert and the little side insert. And I plan on top of those plans, and flesh out grander schemes of my initial points.

Nobody is going to tell me that’s my problem. Planning is a good thing, and I’m very thorough. What’s bad is to be impulsive and to act before thinking.

But actually, I don’t know which is worse. I kind of envy the other extreme. At least they’re doing something.

Doing.

That’s the problem with planning, with thinking. When does it turn into action? Will it ever?

It doesn’t have to…

And I have found myself here, at this point, where planning has become paralyzing.

It’s a rut.

I’ve been in a rut.

The sinister thing about this kind of rut is that you’re encouraged to stay there. It’s a mirage of getting your shit together. It’s a mirage of having a good outlook and direction. You have a plan! So you’re clearly going somewhere, right?

…Right?

Planning is a convenient escape from the responsibilities of actually getting to where you want to go. You can justify this escape because you always appear to be doing something. You’re planning. That’s commendable. Psychologists have studied this topic. Just talking about your plan and getting praise for it boosts your self-identity as if you already achieved that goal. So you don’t work towards it anymore. Planning halts momentum.

So this is me saying I’m sick of not doing. I realize that I can’t plan away risk. I accept my planning as fuel for my fears of both failure and success. I’m going to think less and just do. I don’t want to always be on the way. I’m going to reach my goals. I am not SEPTA. I refuse to be SEPTA.

SEPTA slogan
A slogan as pathetic as it is brilliant.

PS, that picture ended up being a thumbnail for a YouTube video of “We’re Getting There (official music video)” by Michal Pearl Waldfogel. You should check it out and have a laugh, because it was a comical find.

The Screaming Man on the Park Bench

I get weird when I’m tired.

Like really weird.

Just outright bizarre.

And I’ve been tired a lot lately.

You’re always thinking something, right? But you might not always be actively thinking a thought, y’know? Sometimes your mind drifts into this fluid space between your conscious and subconscious, and random, often nonsensical thoughts hit you out of nowhere.

I fall into that fluid space easily and often when I haven’t had much sleep. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been tired a lot lately.

See, most of the time, when you’ve been properly…sleepdrated (like hydrated but for sleep? There has to be a word for this that I can’t think of…but sleepdrated will do for now.), one of these weird thoughts fly at you like,

Hey you know what would be fun? Jumping into oncoming traffic!

and you can immediately distinguish that this is not a wise decision, it would not in fact be fun. You realize that it wasn’t your regular thoughts, your mind has drifted into the abyss, and you revert your focus and stay on the sidewalk.

There are those few times, though, when you are not fully equipped with the energy and sense to shut down these weird ideas. And when you let them linger in your head too long, they become their own thing and become harder and harder to stop. And thus we have the screaming man on the park bench.

My boyfriend picked me up from work one night after I pulled a 13 hour shift between two locations of my job. It was a pretty silent ride, as I was exhausted and he was focused on not letting us die at the hands of a New Jersey driver. We passed a park, and I broke into an uncontrollable giggle fit. I could not get it together. After maybe ten minutes, my laughing and tears subsided just enough to explain myself. Unfortunately for Dave, my sleep deprivation did not allow me the sense to share that it was a fleeting thought from my subconscious mind…

“There is a man sitting on a park bench, and he won’t stop screaming.”

“What? Where?”

“There’s a man. He just walked up one day, sat down at a bench, and screamed. He’s still screaming. He won’t stop.”

“At that park? What man? I didn’t see anyone screaming.”

“Why is he screaming? Does anybody know!? That man…”

“Uhm…okay I think it’s time we get you home.”

A few days go by after that. Dave and I are eating breakfast.

“He’s going to become a tourist attraction. He’s going to be on the news.”

“Who?”

“The screaming man on the park bench. He easily became a nuisance after like the first day.”

“Stormy, WHAT SCREAMING MAN??? Did you see this guy?”

“But why is he screaming, though? Is he sad? Is he angry? Is this personal or is this a protest?”

“I can’t with you.”

“Whole think-pieces are probably going to be written about him,” I yell as Dave walks out of the room, “like who he is, where he came from, if he has family! What does his family think?”

Another week, another night vedging out with Dave after a long day at work.

“Have you ever seen the music video for ‘Days Go By’ by Dirty Vegas?”

“Nope, never heard of it.”

“You need to see it.”

“…Okay? That’s not really the kind of music I go for.”

“No, the video!”

“What about it?”

“Maybe he lost somebody.”

“Who?”

“The screaming man…on the park bench.”

OH MY GOD.” 

Weeks later, Dave and I are venting about work drama.

“They can’t keep working me to death like this. One more week without a day off and I’m gonna…I’m gonna go to the park.”

“You’re gonna what?”

“I’m gonna go to the park, sit on a bench, and scream.”

My mouth dropped. “Oh my gosh. YOU’RE the screaming man on the park bench??? Am I clairvoyant!?”

“No…and no, but I think I can relate to him.”

“I think I can relate to him too sometimes. Maybe we all can.”

Maybe we all can.”

I get really weird when I’m tired. So weird, it’s contagious.

Huh…I wonder if the screaming is contagious…

He could garner a following! Maybe there will be screaming women on park benches! Woah…that screaming man..