According to Plan

Did I ever tell you about my friend Clear Shot? For the record, Clear Shot wasn’t his birth name. No, this is his nickname. The reason for his nickname was because Clear Shot would create sprinkler drawings for commercial office buildings.
There are old buildings throughout New York City that were built before current standards as the new buildings we have today. Enter my friend Clear Shot.
His job was to sketch a plan for the Department of Buildings to have on file. The drawings were detailed prints which designed the plan; and the details of this work needed to be done according to the plan upon inspection. However, anyone in the construction business knows to always expect the unexpected.

In this case, there were several times when something was unexpected. This all comes to light during the install. This is when the workers would look above the hung ceilings in existing offices. And according to Clear Shot’s drawings, there was nothing in the way. According to Clear Shot’s drawings, the installer had a “Clear shot,” all the way through.
Hence, this is why we called him Clear Shot. And by the way, this never failed. There was always something in the way. There was always some unforeseen problem that went unaccounted for such as steel beams and ductwork. some of these mistakes were costly and laborsome. And people would curse and Clear Shot was yelled at.
Somehow, the installers made things work without deviating too much from the approved plan. And I know that not too many people will understand this. I know that not everyone understands construction. I get that. But this is life too.

There are times when we expect everything to be a clear shot with nothing in our way. Moreover, there are times when our plans are interrupted. And then bam! We run into something that we missed or we hadn’t planned for.
On occasion, life works according to plan. Frequently, however, life comes with unexpected complications. This is where frustration comes in. This is where our personal toughness is questioned. More to the point, this is where some people quit and others keep going.
It would be inaccurate to say there’s nothing in front of us. In fact, it would be dishonest to say there are no roadblocks in life. And furthermore, it would be misleading to say life comes without unforeseen problems.
“You have a clear shot all the way through,” is what my friend would say.
We would laugh about this at work because we always knew what this meant. We knew this meant there was a problem somewhere, without fail. Eventually, this became the joke and for Clear Shot, this became his name.

We hear about this thing they call mental toughness. 
They say, “You have to have thicker skin.”

I hear people talk about their secret of endurance. They talk about the tenacity to live and to overcome. In my history, I’ve seen people on jobs, hard as ever, dirty and filthy with long hours still ahead. I’ve seen grown men work themselves to the bone. Yet, they still go. They’re on the clock and there is no quitting time until the job is done. However, offer this math to life’s equations and the science is thrown off by emotion.

My friend Declan always tells me, “Sure, you can argue about the problems on the job but that only makes the job take longer. I’d rather get in there, figure it out, and get home in time for supper.”
I like this idea. This makes sense to me. I like Declan too, which in fact, his name alone has a great meaning. It translates from the Irish given name from St, Declan or “Man of prayer.”
I like the way Declan simplifies life. We have to stop overcomplicating things with opinion or emotion, which I think is the more common route.

We find ourselves at the crossroads. Or, maybe not. Maybe we find ourselves in our daily life. We find ourselves stuck in the disappointments and complications that can be disheartening.
We thought we had it. We thought we had a clear shot all the way through until bam!
Something unexpected got in our way. Either physically, mentally, or emotionally, the roadblocks ahead can alter our sights. In which case, it’s like my friend Declan said. Sure, we can argue. Or, we can get in there, figure it out, and be home in time for supper. 

I admit it.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this; there are times when I want to pick up my toys and go home. I don’t want to play anymore. There are times when the world is so huge and I am small, like a boy, or like a child or a life that has yet to unfold. I have moments when I face intimidations that lead me towards tragic thinking. And again, I am this little boy. I am a boy yet I am a man; yet I am a life that has unfolded consecutively a thousand times, again and again, only to be reborn and reshaped.
I am repackaged each day when the sun comes up. I have new challenges and old expectations, which will often collide and disrupt my concentration. They call these subconscious programs and biases. These are wasteful components that prevent me from being home in time for supper.

I was thinking about the first time I ever spoke with a professional about a manuscript of mine. When I say this man was brutal on me, I say this as an understatement. We talked on the phone. He was very proud of who he was and spoke about himself and his successfulness in the literary business.
He rejected me within 30 seconds of the phone call and then proceeded to berate me. He told me not to be insulted. Then he took on a new form of insults once he learned that I had never heard of him before, nor did I research him.
A mutual friend of ours had me call him. This mutual friend was someone that was influential in a different world, which meant the agent had to take my call.
After yelling at me for a few minutes, he told me again, “Don’t be offended but don’t call me until you write something good enough for me to consider who will be starring as the main character in the movie.”

When asked if I was okay. I said, “Sure.” He tried to comfort me again in some backhanded, insulting way to which I explained, “You couldn’t insult me.”
Then he mentioned the way he spoke, which he admitted was tough.
I explained, “We don’t know each other. All I know right now is you’re a voice on a phone and quite honestly, I know you would never speak to me this way if I was in front of you.”

He hung up . . .

We tend to take on insults. We get angry. We argue about the interruptions and the roadblocks. We argue and we bitch and complain about the clear shots that never came true. Meanwhile, my friend Declan has it right. Get in there, figure it out, and get the job done so we can be home in time for supper. 

Mom used to tell me, “No one ever promised you a rose garden.”
Life gets tough. I get that.
Roadblocks suck. I get that too and so does Declan.
The difference is Declan doesn’t give into intimidation. He’s not emotional. Instead, he uses plans and strategy. That’s how he makes it home in time for supper. I like that idea.

Don’t you?


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