I grew up a middle child. I was supposed to be a pleaser. In so many ways, I had rebelled against this concept, but showing people the beauties of travel and adventure travel, at that, and capturing better photographs. This required a bit more perfection. Drake texted back: "Don't worry about it. It'll be one of the great stories." I knew it was true, but it was not what I wanted to hear.
When I was in college, everyone wanted to work for companies like Franklin Covey. Time Management, that was the route to happiness. The concept was sold in leather binders with neatly conformed inserts bound in plastic. Buying more plastic inserts likely equated to more organization, and therefore, more happiness. You had nothing if you didn't have your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, FIVE-year goals written down. (Five years? I could barely decide on the next five minutes.) Where I came from, that five-year plan also meant babies at some point. I tried to swallow the pill; I really did. It just kept getting stuck in my posterior pharynx somewhere, never fully washed down even with a generous supply of encouraging back patting and awkward jokes about when I was going "start getting on with life." I think that meant going into debt for a house. The same houses that people vacated in 2008. Granted, I had my fair share of "living" by applying to, getting accepted to, and successfully completing medical school. Boy, everyone was really on board then. "He's finally 'did got done living!'" [sic]. Hmmmm. That was many years ago.
What ever happened to Franklin Covey? Well, the smartphone, for one thing. I think the plush leather binders are still out there, making you feel like your life is smoothly compact and organized. But at 3 a.m. in emergency surgery in Hawaii, with myself as an assisting intern, I didn't see too many family members organized or "put together." No one seemed quite so assured of their five year plans when a loved one was intubated and yours truly could make adjustments to the oxygen, positive end expiratory pressure, tidal volume, respiratory rate, I:E ratio and other various knobs and dials (as long as the respiratory therapist knew, claro). The funerals I attended all praised person's "extreme organization which directly affected his love." Not really. People mostly tell stories at the end. In fact a writer in the New Yorker even today suggested that "We tell ourselves stories in order to live," repeating Joan Didion from "The White Album."
So what are the perils of the over programmed life? I don't know really. I guess I'm not the one to speak on that topic effectively if you have read this far. I don't even know about the programmed life. I'll say this though: I've learned quite a bit about myself the less I have become programmed and I've remembered more during those times. There are blocks of time which people can't remember: days, months when I believe their routine (or hatred of it) has consolidated in their memory, allowing them to the forget the details, details so mundane or programmed or uninteresting that their minds have actually discarded it. Strange. I remember certain days or weeks or months more vividly than they probably occurred. Technicolor. Sharp.