Rules For Life – What’s Your Plan B?
by Ken La Salle
Last week, I took a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail with a backpack that was far too heavy, with maps that weren’t very good, with a water bladder that leaked at high altitudes, and with a pair of feet that were not ready for any of that. I had no way of knowing about these problems before I left but you can believe that I found out about them rather quickly once I was hiking. Fortunately, the other thing I had with me was a Plan B.
I had provided myself with an escape route just one day of hiking away from my starting point, which happened to be a friend I knew who lived in the area. Fortunately, I was able to contact her and have her pick me up rather than suffer through days of hiking with a pack that was too heavy, maps with incorrect information, sore feet and leaky water.
You have no idea how happy I was that I had organized a Plan B. My friend and I arranged to meet on a mountain road near her home and, as I waited for her to pick me up, I stripped off my heavy gear and found a rock to sit on so I could rest my feet.
As it turned out, my friend wasn’t finding me quite as easily as I’d hoped. The sun soon began to set and I actually found myself growing angry with her for not hurrying. But, honestly, was it her fault? Wasn’t I the one who had asked for her to go out of her way that afternoon, drive down that lonely mountain road, and find me in the middle of nowhere? Rather than grow angry with someone who was simply trying to help, I decided to devise a Plan B to this new situation. I planned, instead, to set up camp where I was and let my friend know she could call off her search.
As it turned out, she still found me and took me to civilization but, once I had decided on a good Plan B I was no longer concerned or upset by her delay. I knew I would make it just fine, one way or the other.
This small piece of my failed backpacking trip is just an illustration of how our lives progress from day to day. We decide what we’re going to do and are often faced, when things go awry, with a choice about how we’re going to react. Will we blame our fortune on others or will we act to create a better resolution? It might not be the resolution we had originally intended but we can make it far better than if we complained and blamed someone else.
And so, I ask you: What is your Plan B? Are you ready, when your plans go south, to find another way to make them work? Because, if you’re not, you may be the person angrily sniping at others for your faults.
Now, I’m probably the last person who should ever advocate for having a Plan B, because when I was growing up, I was told that rather than do what I want with my life, rather than pursue my dreams, I should do what other people wanted me to do. People like my parents told me to be this way and what they wanted me to do they called Plan B.
So, let’s be clear about this. Plan B should never be what you do instead of Plan A, because Plan A is too hard or too scary or too uncertain. Your secondary plan should only be there in case Plan A goes awry. And you should only use your Plan B when you are satisfied that it is necessary to help you temporarily until you can pursue Plan A again.
Because I’m going to hit that trail again. Next time, I’ll have better maps, a lighter pack, my water won’t leak, and I’ll be confident that things will be okay because I’ll have a Plan B just in case.
About the Author
Author and Playwright, Ken La Salle grew up in Santa Ana, California and has remained in the surrounding area his entire life. He was raised with strong, blue-collar roots, which have given him a progressive and environmentalist view. As a result, you’ll find many of his stories touching those areas both geographically and philosophically. His plays have been seen in theaters across the country and you can find a growing number of books available online. Find out more about Ken on his website at www.kenlasalle.com.