Gang Aft A-Gley

Bobbie Burns knew it in the 19th century.

Steinbeck still believed it in the 20th century.

In the 21st century it is no less true. “The best laid scheme’s o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.”

I have these scattered memories gathered in my head that apparently were meant to be saved until I had the courage to write them down.  The memories must have been lessons that I learned that I just socked away for when I needed them.  They are often random and though I forget a lot of things that happen before them and since, for some reason these memories have become lodged.  One such memory was from when my wife and I attended our first Lamaze class when our older daughter was born.

In this group of several expectant mothers and their partners, the instructor talked about the perfect birth.  She talked about this image that every expectant couple had in their minds about how the birthing process would be as well as how the first few days would be.  She then extolled us to lose that image.  To let the process flow.  Calmly she told us all that planning was important but being too rigid would quite possibly set us all up for disappointment.  Were we prepared for the worst or just the “picture?”

This lesson has come back to me time again in my 40phor.  Do we know how to deal with the outcomes when reality doesn’t meet our projection?  When our children end up with disorders, disabilities that only happen to other people, are we flexible enough to survive or will we be driven mad by our perceived curse? When our marriage isn’t as it was portrayed on “Leave It to Beaver” or “The Brady Bunch,” do we have the stamina to keep it together?  When the house is smaller than we imagined, the vacations not what we expected, the cars far less than luxury, do we drown in our feelings of failure or do we swim to the next island, lay on the beach for a second, and get back at it??

Woody Allen once said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.  Pretty insightful for an atheist.  Same premise as Robert Burns.  It is important to plan but realize that when a plan doesn’t work out, it’s not time to give up; it’s time to revisit the playbook.

As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”


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