The Folly of Planning

I should know by now that making plans is an act of folly since life — and death — so often overrides those plans. And yet, still I plan.

For the past several months, I’ve been planning and preparing for a cross-country hiking/camping/backpacking trip. I bought whatever gear I thought I’d need, fulfilled my promises, cleared my schedule. In fact, I was just ticking off the last item on my list — an oil change and a tune-up — in preparation for my departure this weekend, when my plans fell apart.

I should have known this would be an ill-fated trip when not one, not two, but three people who had invited me for extended stays more or less disinvited me all within a couple of days of each other. I’d still planned to head out because ultimately this trip was about me and my relationship to the world, but my mechanic put the brakes on the whole thing, at least for now.

Apparently, although the car runs very well, and the engine could last for a couple of more years just driving around town, I’d need luck to do a cross-country trip, and despite my penchant for planning, luck is something I never plan on. I didn’t intend to push either myself or the ancient VW, so I probably would have been okay, but I bowed to the inevitable and am having the engine rebuilt. And the transmission. Eek.

It’s funny. I had the body work done because the engine and other mechanical parts were fine, but now that they are not good enough for what I have planned, I have no choice but to get the very expensive work done or else I would have wasted the small fortune I spent on the body. By the time it’s all done, I will have paid enough to have bought a new car. I certainly can’t fool myself into thinking that all this work makes the vehicle new — this folly of mine is still forty-four years old. And yet . . . what the heck. Everyone needs a folly at least once in their life, right? Besides, the bug is the only car I have ever owned, and I’m the only owner it has ever had. Such uniqueness should be celebrated, if only by a new engine.

Once the work is done, I still can’t set out. I need to drive it around town for at least five hundred miles to break in the engine and maybe take a short trip or two before I attempt a cross-country trip. So that’s what I’m planning.

Yep. Always planning, folly or not.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


Makes me wonder what plans these seabirds had made — or not made — for them to end up in a parking lot in the desert, waiting for a ride back home.

One Response to “The Folly of Planning”

  1. mickeyhoffman Says:

    The gulls planned a cross-country trip but ran out of herring.

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