Take It Easy: You Don’t Have to Plan for the End of the World

My wish for the world: peace and love in 2013.

My wish for the world: peace and love in 2013.

Miles run yesterday: 10

Days until the end of the world: 1

Days until Christmas: 5

Here’s the deal: if you are concerned about a nuclear holocaust or the old Y2K kind of massive computer glitch or World War III, I completely understand your need to hoard batteries, canned goods and Just Dance 4.

However, if the end of the world is upon us–say, tomorrow–and we are about to be smote or collected up into heaven or cease to exist, it’s a free ticket: stop planning.

I’m a planner.

You may recall that when I was 5 years old, I planned a Christmas party without telling my mom, I helped plan prom, I planned our wedding, I planned to have two kids, I planned to go back to work full-time…. oops. That hasn’t happened yet. Well, it will. It will, I tell you.

Back when I was working in my very first salaried job, I became friends with a girl who is now a very famous writer. At the time, she was temping at the place where I worked, and she told me she wanted to write books that people would read, and I didn’t really believe her. I think I nodded the way you do when a kid says that he is going to be a famous basketball player or video game designer when he grows up.

Anyway, I knew her then; I don’t know her now. I guess I didn’t plan that part very well.

One day, on a day I must have been feeling flush with cash, she and I went out to get pizza for lunch.

As we sat there, I told her about my irritating situation: my grandmother had bought a grand piano, and she was ready to send me her old, upright piano.

“Don’t get me wrong: I’m very thankful to be getting a piano,” I said, between chews. “But it’s just out of order.”

She wiped her mouth neatly with a napkin. “Out of order?”

“I mean, out of life order, you know? Like, first you go to college, then you get a job, then you get married, then you get a house, then you get a piano.”

She gave me a weird look. “I have never, ever thought about life that way.”

Never? Ever? “You don’t plan out your life?”

She looked at me with pity. “Life happens, and you roll with it.”

This was a new life philosophy with which I had not yet been acquainted. I didn’t roll, and life didn’t happen. Life fit into neat boxes which I had prepared.

I ended up taking jobs that required event planning and writing planning and scheduling.

She became a successful author.

Much as I love to plan, tomorrow’s big end time scare actually makes me happy. If the world comes to a screeching halt, all the batteries in the world won’t help you.

I’m free!

So I can stop checking things off the various lists I keep around the house.

I don’t need to plan future newspaper columns for 2013. I don’t need to remember to pack large, warehouse club-sized packets of bread yeast to take to my mom at Christmastime. I shouldn’t worry too much about all the cookies I have planned to bake tomorrow.

I’m going to kick back and read Gone Girl. It’s a page-turner. And I plan to finish it before the world ends.


26 thoughts on “Take It Easy: You Don’t Have to Plan for the End of the World

  1. You go girl. Live on the edge. Run with scissors. Eat raw cookie dough. Take a day off running… 🙂 Okay, In your case that my mean the end of the world.

    • annewoodman says:

      Come on… can’t I squeeze in just one more run? ; )

      What would you do, Dennis?

      • I would fly to Colorado, hitch a ride into the mountains, walk into the “Hole in the Ground” (This is a hidden valley My brother and I found when we were backpacking one year), catch a couple trout form the stream, clean and cook them over a little fire, sit in the lean-to We found under the huge aspen tree, eat my fish, watch and listen to the stream go by.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m not much of a roller either. Just like cockroaches, my lists will be the one thing to survive the apocalypse. So, if you manage to survive but I don’t, will you take care of those lists for me? I won’t rest in peace until all the little boxes are checked off…

    I loved Gone Girl. But I didn’t love the ending. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about it.

  3. robincoyle says:

    No wonder we get along. I am a planner too. And organizer. My lists have subset lists. My pantry is alphabetized. Maybe I should let all that go and finish my damn book.

  4. Daryl says:

    Hey planner girl, I don’t supposed in you stashed a spare million or so in one of those “neatly organized boxes” did you? I’m ready to retire and become a kept man 😉

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    I’m mostly a planner, but sometimes I will do things unexpectedly—like start writing novels or move to Maryland when my husband and I unexpectedly decided he should apply for a position out here.

    But I’ve already got Saturday’s post scheduled, and I’m planning for life after Friday There are all those sales starting the 26th…. 🙂

  6. Pre-kids, I loved being sick because the planning stopped momentarily and I could live in the moment until I felt better. That being said, I’m not entirely a successful planner. Like jm, I also jump into things. I moved to Oregon for a year, sight unseen, on a whim, because I knew there were a lot of bookstores and coffee shops in Portland. That was back in 2001 and I’m still here and loving it.

  7. I aspire to be a planner, and I do write lists and things, but then I lose them, or forget about them, so mostly I have to just roll!

    Luckily I’ve managed to comment on this post before the end of the world, I would hate for your last thought to be, “Vanessa doesn’t like me anymore!”

  8. J-Bo says:

    Hah. I like that part about the piano. I can relate- I’m a planner too.

    I will hope, for your sake, that the world ends 😉 Although it’s already 1:17am so it’s not looking good.

    I’m very curious as to who your writer friend was…

  9. Also a rigid planner here – and the nature of my job requires me to bring these qualities out even further and only a daily basis. With all of the talk of the world ending today, I don’t know if I should feel guilty for keeping with all my plans on my to-do list. Should I throw it to the wind and enjoy our last day? Maybe I’m too certain that it won’t actually happen, or maybe I’m too nervous to stray off plan if it does 🙂

  10. I’m a big planner, too, but my “everything-at-the-last-minute” spouse (whom I adore) sometimes sucks me into her orbit. This allows me, in the 11th hour, to turn in into a “let’s-get-our-shit-together” drill sergeant type, which, I’m pleased to say, is role that also fits comfortably in my wheelhouse.

  11. Ravena Guron says:

    It’s funny reading this from the other side of the end of the world. I tend to roll with things, but that means I get nothing done! I plan to plan, but I never actually plan 😀

  12. A college friend was SO Sure the Mayan Calendar was right that she sent out “Sorry None Of Us Will Be Here For Christmas” cards, and in her family she took her name out of the drawing for the gift exchange. I haven’t heard if she was happy or sad that we’re still here…

  13. David Gentry says:


    I enjoyed this blog post.

    I attended a seminar on goal-setting. I suspect the speaker did not like my comment at the end of the seminar: “My goal is to not set goals all of the time.” I am a maker of lists, also. I guess you got the gene. We can all blame our DNA. I try not to take my lists too seriously, although they have been helpful.

    Love, Dad

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