Say when it’s time for plan B

June 10, 2017

I exited the plane, enjoyed my free fall, then checked my altimeter.

Pull time.

I deployed my parachute, waiting for that sweet whooshing sound, the one that meant I had a working canopy open. I didn’t hear the sound. I was leaning backwards and turning, instead of floating softly toward the ground. I didn’t have to do my eight-point canopy check. I knew immediately that something was wrong.

Ever since I had begun skydiving, I had been aware that although things mostly go well, sometimes they don’t. For a while, I dreaded the possibility that something wouldn’t be right with my canopy on opening, that I might have to cut it away. To deal with the fear and dread, I planned on having to use plan B—cutting away my main and pulling my reserve—each time I jumped out of the plane.

It was time to execute plan B.

Whoosh. What a sweet sound that was, as the reserve canopy opened over my head.

Most of us have plans and ideas about how we think an activity, or a relationship, or a job, will go. We marry, and we expect the relationship to flourish. We date someone, and we expect that person to be at least a decent sort of being. We begin a friendship with someone because something about that person has attracted us, drawn us in. We accept a job or work offer—or hire someone to work for us—and we have some idea how things will proceed. We hope things will work out well.

Life is like skydiving. There are no guarantees. And while we may do everything right and properly, sometimes things just don’t work out. While it isn’t healthy or advisable to run from every problem, sometimes we need to cut away major malfunctions.

It’s okay to have a plan. But take the time to develop a plan B, too. Know what you’re going to do if plan A doesn’t work out. Sometimes it’s easier to come up with an option or an emergency procedure if we think it through before the crisis occurs. Then we don’t have to panic. We can just institute the plan we rehearsed.

Have you reviewed your emergency procedures today?

God, give me the alertness to recognize when it’s time to cut away a malfunction. Give me the presence of mind to save my own life.

From the book: More Language of Letting Go

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About the author

In addiction and recovery circles, Melody Beattie is a household name. She is the best-selling author of numerous books.

One of Melody's more recent titles is The Grief Club, which was published in 2006. This inspirational book gives the reader an inside look at the miraculous phenomenon that occurs after loss--the being welcomed into a new "club" of sorts, a circle of people who have lived through similar grief and pain, whether it be the loss of a child, a spouse, a career, or even one's youth.

For more information about Melody and her books, visit the author's official website