Five-Year Plans and the Monkey’s Paw

Sunset catching distant rainfall last night. Gorgeous shade of rose.

So, last week I talked about Danbling and Overthinging in plotting a series arc. Theoretically plotting one, since I’m not much of a plotter. But one of the insightful comments made me realize WHY I’m not much of a plotter. It comes back to how I live my whole life and The Monkey’s Paw.

You remember that short story, right? I think we all had to read it in school. The monkey’s paw grants three wishes, but at terrible cost to the wishers. I don’t want to blow the story if you haven’t read it, but it’s the syndrome where you wish for a million dollars and then your kid gets killed by a city bus and you get a million-dollar settlement. The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t interfere with fate, “they” say. That’s not so much the story I carry away, not being all that into fatalism.

I totally believe we map our own futures.


I don’t think we can control it.

See, I’ve done training in a bunch of those systems where you map out a one-year, five-year, ten-year plan. You visualize exactly what you want, how you want it and precisely when. Most of the success gurus build off of this idea, in one way or another. The “exact” and “precise” aspects are meant to duck the monkey’s paw curse. You don’t let the tricksters mess with you – you specify exactly how you want your million dollars and when.

You know I’m all about “Be Careful What You Wish For.” What you get might not be exactly what you thought it would be. But for me, this doesn’t translate into “demand that the universe give you exactly what you want, when and where you want it.” That seems the height of arrogance to me.

This is why, despite my spreadsheets and other planning, I do not have a five-year plan.

I know what I want, what I wish for, how I’d like for my life to go. But I’m well aware I’m asking for gifts and blessings. If the universe chooses to rain good things on me, then I’m grateful. And I feel like part of that gratitude is leaving it up to Tao or the gods and goddesses or whoever, to give it to me in the best way at the best time.

So, while I have many plans and wishes, none of them are tied to time.

KAK’s comment made me see why I don’t really do this with plots, either. I do think the stories are gifts. I know in general what they’ll be and how they go, but I don’t feel like it’s my thing to control them. In fact, I think I’d be overstepping myself to impose my plan on them. That’s an excellent insight for me.

Now I just have to remember it when I start to overthing.

6 Replies to “Five-Year Plans and the Monkey’s Paw”

  1. Ah yes. Did you know someone made a movie out of that didactic, Protestant work-ethic, shut-up-and-be-happy short story? It wasn’t much better on celluloid. Regardless, from that rant you may assume I’m with you – be clear about what you want, match action to intent and voila. Marion Wienstein wrote a book called Positive Magic that is a good primer on modern Wicca wherein she describes matching action with intent as: “Pray to catch the bus, then run like hell.”

    It’s that last part that most success gurus seem to forget to mention. Acting in accordance, it’s called. So being aware in a vague fashion of where you want your story arc to end up is enough. Your characters, your heart and your process will hand you the hows and the wherefores.

    1. But how do you really feel about that story, Marcella? 😉

      I like that concept, matching the intent with action. This is exactly how I’ll approach it!

    2. Yup. I’m in total accordance with that…wish, visualize…then get out your oar and start paddling. There’s a time and place for stillness, but action is also a necessary component.

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