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The Futility Of Planning And Why You Should Embrace The Wonder Of Randomness

I’ve lived in the same house for over 25 years.

In the 1980′s, when we first moved in, this was a calm, quiet residential neighborhood. Today, with over 10,000 vehicles passing by our front gate every day, it’s among the noisiest, busiest and dustiest in the city.

Real estate value has skyrocketed. Individual homes are being fast replaced by multi-storey flats. Gardens are now but fond memories. Trees lining the shaded avenues, that we enjoyed for years on an evening stroll, have been ruthlessly chopped down to offer greater visibility to billboards and store-fronts.

A part of the phenomenal growth of the area was planned.

Most of it was accidental or random.

It just happened.

My favorite place to think is on the terrace.

This morning, I was walking around, thinking. As I basked in the gentle rays of the rising sun, with little Muffin running around sniffing and exploring, I thought back over the years.

Across 25 years, in more than 25 hundred similar ‘planning walks’, I must have made 25 thousand plans for my future – if not more!

A few of them were carried out. Most weren’t.

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]

– From Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786

Life went on, unfolding in its magical uniqueness. Throwing serendipitous surprises across my path. Some were pleasant. Others, not so much.

Most of it was random. It could have happened differently. Or not at all.

With more hours than I can imagine invested (wasted?!) into planning things out, I must admit that it has been, by and large, an unfruitful exercise.

Measured purely in “return on investment” terms, my dividend from planning has been pathetic.

The biggest lesson from a quarter century of planning may well be this:

Life is random. Enjoy every moment of it.

Let things evolve as they will.

Prepare and adapt to the way it does.

Guide it, if you like, without dreaming about controlling or directing where it leads you.

Because unbridled growth and development may end up being worse than where you began… and the journey is always more fun than where you end up.

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