Big Plans

I like quotes. I like them a lot. I use them to make a point, as a sort of shorthand for what I’m thinking of feeling. Among my favorites is this: “Make no small plans, they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” Daniel Burnham, who is credited with this quote, was the architect of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. If you’ve ever read Erik Larson’s book Devil in the White City, you know that this was a pretty ambitious undertaking, often executed without adequate, or any underlying plans. And yet, it was hugely successful.

Funny thing is, I used to take a lot of leaps before I looked. That’s how I picked law school, that’s how I came to DC. I didn’t ask too many questions, and I dealt with surprises as they came up (not always well. Not always gracefully. Often with a lot of crying and yelling. But I dealt with them). But since moving here, I’ve become a bit ossified. I started chasing a dream that wasn’t mine, because it seemed better than the alternative: admitting at 30 that I had no effing idea what I wanted to do next.

I’ve been a cubicle jockey in the upper reaches of the federal government, and I can safely say I do not wish to spend my life behind a desk, even if it is in service of my fellow citizen. I’ve participated in deals made on the Senate floor, I’ve danced at Inauguration, I’ve walk-and-talked in the West Wing, and for those lucky souls who are actually able to make change, God bless. But when I left the theatre for law, it was because change was made too incrementally through art; turns out government makes change incrementally as well. Thinking I needed to focus on the micro, versus the macro, I tried to change myself, in an effort to make my own corner of the world better. I tried to settle down, emphasis on the settle, but it didn’t stick. No matter how I contorted and twisted myself, it wasn’t enough. Which I suppose is proof of the infinite blessings of the universe: mediocrity will not be tolerated.

Stripping away all of that, I ask myself, what makes you happy? Sharing meals with friends, and exploring new places. Combining the two. Of course, being a big picture person, my first question is, how do I make a meaningful life out of that? But I’m trying to keep that question at bay for the moment. For right now, in the midst of feeling shitty, what would make me feel better? Sharing meals with friends, and exploring new places.

So, when a friend and I got into a conversation about taking trips, and whether we should take one together, a lot of different feelings came up. I immediately thought “I can’t afford this,” “I can’t take the time off of work,” “I should just take a small trip over a weekend.” But I’m tired of playing small. I’m tired of hedging my bets and trying to make sense of it all. I want to share meals with friends, and I want to explore new places. Australia, Brussels, Tuscany, New Zealand, Greece… once I start thinking about it, I can’t stop.

There are always excuses as to why you can’t go or be or do. I’m done with excuses. They’re just protection from something I no longer want to protect.  I’m going on a big trip, and it’s going to be magnificent.


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