Plan “B”


“Life is All About How you Handle Plan B
Plan A is always my first choice.
You know, the one where
Everything works out to be
Happily ever-after.
But more often than not,
I find myself dealing with
The upside-down, inside-out version —
Where nothing goes as it should.
It’s at this point that the real
Test of my character comes in..
Do I sink, or do I swim?
Do I wallow in self pity and play the victim,
Or simply shift gears
And make the best of the situation?
The choice is all mine…
Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”
― Suzy TorontoThe Sacred Sisterhood Of Wonderful Wacky Women

This past week my synagogue community lost someone very suddenly. The man was in his late 60s, which sounds pretty young to me. He had a serious heart attack, hung on for a week and then passed. His wife, children, extended family, friends and community are reeling from the shock. He was one of those guys everyone knew. He was funny, sassy, smart, athletic, a free spirit, charismatic. One of those guys everyone wants to be around. I sat on several committees with him and we sparred often, laughed continuously and always parted as friends. He didn’t carry grudges but also didn’t suffer fools lightly. In short, he was one unique person who kept everyone on their toes and is now gone way too soon.

I found out at the funeral that a common quote around their house was, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.” It got me thinking about how that applies to my life. I’ve suffered the loss of both my parents, some childhood friends, I’ve uprooted myself to move to a new city, my kids haven’t always met my expectations, I’ve been faced with career upheaval and it goes on and on.

There are other versions of this quote. John Lennon famously sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and there is a Yiddish saying, “Man plans and God laughs.” I guess the point is that life is mostly about Plan B. We humans have the gift of free will and that offers the illusion that we also have control. But as I get older I keep bumping into the idea that life is unpredictable and messy and sometimes joyful and sometimes painful.

I do not believe this means we shouldn’t make plans, or that we should sit fatalistically and wait for things to happen to us. What I believe is that we should be hopeful and optimistic and make plans and dream big. But we also need to develop the resilience to weather the ups and downs that life throws our way. We should expect that sometimes things won’t go as planned and be open to other options.

If my friend’s death taught me anything, it’s that I need to live life on my own terms. I should make my plans but be prepared for anything. I should not wait to follow my dreams. And if, or when, the unthinkable happens, I have a community of family and friends waiting to hold me up and carry me through the darkness.

Shabbat shalom, y’all!


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