As I have shared before, I am a girl who lives by her planner. I have maintained a paper planner since high school and feel completely lost without it. To me, there’s something therapeutic about filling the calendar with my plans, hopes, and dreams in all their color coded, sticker covered glory. I spend hours each December filling the notes pages with lists of goals, restaurants to try, books to read, and miles to run in the year ahead. And, I sit down with a cup of tea each weekend, reflecting on the week I just finished and goal setting for the week ahead. It is busy, beautiful, and a way to express my creativity. My planner is part journal, part historical record of my life, all rolled into one, tucked safely into my purse everywhere I go.
So what on earth do I do with this year?! 2020 has been a horrible year that has stripped away every single plan I (and everyone else) had made. All of the beautiful things I set out to do in January suddenly ceased to exist. Never in my life would I have dreamed everything would suddenly be gone. (But seriously, if I hear anything about unprecedented times one more time, I will lose my ever loving mind!!)
Instead of a book full of joy and hope, my planner suddenly became a sea of scribbles, cancellations, and heartbreaks. Every beautiful thing was crossed out in black ink… all of my dreams unfulfilled… pages and pages in the second half of the year suddenly blank, with no chance of being filled. And very quickly, the book that usually brings me comfort became something ugly and frightening.
In the beginning, I really did try to complete the suggestion of other planner junkies, turning it into a journal of all the things we were doing at home. It seemed like an interesting record of the brief pause in my year. I wrote all the silly things we did to pass the time, fully believing that soon I would be able to go back to normal. But as the weeks stretched into months and my hope began to fade, the quarantine journal became completely overwhelming. I shoved it to the bottom of a pile of books and tried to ignore that it even existed.
I swear that thing was like the telltale heart! I could HEAR the book taunting me… “Remember when you were supposed to be in New York with your students? Remember Hamilton, Mexico, concerts, school, friends, places?” That sad, angry planner sat at the bottom of the pile calling out to my broken heart, reminding me of all the things I was missing. I just wanted it out of my life! No… I NEEDED it out of my life.
And so, on July 4, while neighbors were blowing stuff up and sending sparkling fireworks into the sky, I burned down the year in my back yard, page by page. Yeah, it’s probably a little dramatic… but I have a flair for the dramatic. One by one, I watched each plan catch fire, curl, and char until they were gone for good. Every trip. Every celebration. Every task. Just gone without a trace.
Planner junkies probably think this is sad. Other people might view it as crazy. Trust me though… this was therapy. As I watched the year go up in flames… slowly I felt just the tiniest bit lighter. It doesn’t change the fact that I don’t get to DO any of those things. At least, for me, the reminder that they once were on my calendar was gone, and that helped just a little.
I bought a new planner that runs on an academic year schedule. I am cautiously beginning to fill it, hoping that we will go back to school in August as planned. I desperately need to believe that somehow we will begin to get back to a semblance of real life again. I need direction. I need a purpose. I need to be needed.
Hopefully, with August, will come fresh perspective and new dreams. Erase this narrative and start again… more hopeful… wiser.