Planning a Process

There is a perceived duality between planning and chaos but the world is not so black and white. 

The typical view of Planning is of an act of wresting the chaos from a situation. By setting a schedule and organizing the factors in an event, there is a sense of precluding error. But anyone who does this frequently knows that there is no way to predict the occurrences inside an event. There is no way to know that the wind will be unusually ridiculous and blow everyone’s music stands over. There is no way to know that a crying baby will be among the audience. There is no way to know that my fingers will forget that they ever knew how to play the flute and flail uselessly across random keys.

But I don’t accept that the act of planning is inherently impossible. It seems instinctual that one could plan for something to happen. And indeed I do plan for events to occur which occur more or less as I imagine them.

Maybe the part of the situation that we need to throw out is the static object, capital-“E” Event. To will something specific to happen is maybe impossible.

Because an event is inherently contingent – ever-evolving. The limits of human perception preclude the deduction of all of the infinite possible outcomes. This means there is no way to head them all off at the pass. Those of us who get stressed out and neurotic about Planning are the ones who attempt to anticipate all perceived “problems”. Capital-“P” Planning is about making something infinitely specific happen. And I’m not sure it is even possible.

So I propose a lower-case-“p” planning. One that wills a lower-case-“e” event to occur. One that subsumes the contingent underpinning of chaos into its possibilities for success. Because, although it is impossible to will a static Event, it is possible to gather together a collection of contingencies into something incredible.

I went to a wedding recently that had been well-planned and thought-out. All the “traditional” elements were there. But the sunset hitting the bride perfectly as she approached the altar, the birds chirping in the background, and the brilliant interactions among the guests were some of the best parts.

I think it is possible to plan an event that is a process. Something that is unfolding as it occurs. But the key to doing this is in opening up to accept the possibilities inherent within the process.

To Plan an Event is nearly impossible. But to plan a process can render beauty perceptible.

(Featured image retrieved from


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