Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Everyone Has Plan B Days

Everyone has Plan B days. It is a matter of integrity, but also--I suspect--a matter of gaining maturity, to recognize a Plan B day as such, to admit it to oneself, and to drop Plan A without irritation or embarassment.

This morning I had it all planned out, ha ha. The weather being not so good for tennis on my tennis Wednesday, I figured I'd spend a great day in the pottery making large bowls and plates. By noon, however, I had two medium-sized bowls of barely-acceptable form, three saucer-sized plates, a couple of cereal bowls and (in desperation) a reasonably good mug. Plus, several goofs that would need recycling. For me, in two hours, this is terrible work.

I packed it in. Plan A (well, maybe tennis had been the real Plan A) wasn't panning out after all. Didn't even clean up after myself, just covered the eight miserable little beggars with plastic and left the shop. Walking the quarter mile back to the house, I thought I'd scrape some more flaking paint off the front door jamb to prepare it for primer (I've been working on the same door for two years now). The damp weather was mild enough to work outside an hour or two. It would be mindless, but how could I screw up?

However, I decided to put that level of mindless labor off until this afternoon--if I've got energy left then. On a Plan B day, you should go directly back to bed, do something mindless, or try yet again to do something "satisfying" (but not as ambitious as your first objective) before the whole day is shot. I decided to blog. At the point where my aging mind hits the wall, then I'll see about scraping paint. The pattern here is to assess your limitations and re-prioritize your activities.

I still have no idea why it was such a poor day on the wheel! But, I don't have to have an explanation anymore as much as I used to. I know that a month ago I sat at the wheel and churned out eight really nice dinner plates, followed by eight really nice lunch plates. With only one goof. A remarkably good day--and I had no idea why it was such a good day, either. Actually, I had a great day on the tennis court last week, as well. Everything clicked. And I know that I will have days like that again in the future. It's taken me a lifetime to believe that, but it's true. I ain't finished off yet--there's still plenty of Plan A days to look forward to.

I'm sure both women and men have days like this--it's not just PMS. I just want to point out that, once you know you're having such a day, you can move on to Plan B and skip the raging irritation or the embarrassment or name-calling at yourself ("Idiot!" "Jerk!" and so on--yes, I know you do it, too), or the panic that you'll never be able to accomplish the good stuff ever again.

So what do you do when you've got to stick with Plan A on a Plan B day? Your boss needs the final report NOW, or the pot has been promised to be delivered on a certain day? Well, that's when you have to tough it out and perform. And it hurts to be on overdrive, yes. There's integrity, too, to keeping promises made. So yes, there are days when Plan A must not give way to Plan B--days where you've just got to suck it up and bear down hard, spend the extra time, focus, and finish the job.

But, I hate days like that, I really do! I hate that feeling of forcing. No amount of grim satisfaction at accomplishing Plan A under Plan B duress has ever made up for the loathing I have for being in that situation. And, since I've been a person all my life who frequently found I had an unexpected Plan B day on my hands, I'm someone who decided at an early age to avoid making too many plans, overcommitting my time. I prefer spontaneous days. I prefer self-employment. I do NOT do "commission work" well as a potter. Sorry, you who have nice Plan A lives, for me the threat of waking to yet another Plan B day has been quite real, pervasive, and intimidating. And, since I have been a person of some integrity, I've cut myself off from many possible futures that involve the hassles of commitment. Because I'd much rather NOT promise to do something at all, than to promise to do it and NOT come through.

So, for example: I envisioned this blog to be cohesive, chapter by chapter--full of anecdotes, to be sure, but leading to a conclusion supported by nice, well-rounded essays on pottery and artistic integrity. But what have we got here? Summer's almost here and I would rather be potting than writing. There's a two-week journey to Vancouver, BC to visit the in-laws coming up. I've had to spend extra time herding my computer through the pitfalls of a new anti-virus software, plus being the bug-reporter (on the phone for two and half HOURS) to the satellite internet provider Wildblue (seems like they had system problems that they hadn't noticed until I called).

What we have here is a "creative" attempt. It's interesting, but often tangential. Nothing will finish. I will just blog away without deadlines and without apparent direction. Perhaps I will go fix myself a cup of Rooibos tea and return when I

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