It's One Heck of a Fish Story


“Life is what happens
while you are busy
making other plans.”

– John Lennon

The disembodied female voice instructs, “Drive one quarter mile and turn left.” The blinker begins to click rhythmically as we look for an opportunity to ease into the left lane. Settling into the left-hand turning lane at the intersection we hear the emotionless female voice repeat, “Turn left.” Our intentions are confirmed as the proper course of action.

The light changes and we make the turn. “Recalculating. . . please make a U-Turn.”

Huh? What?!? “Nooooo! Stop it!” We scream at the emotionless, disembodied voice, but no argument is forthcoming. Instead we are instructed to, “Please make a U-Turn.” How well do you hold it together when everything seems to be falling apart?

* * * * *

The story is told of a man who was directed to go to a specific place for a specific reason. After giving it some thought, the man decided to go in a different direction. His best attempt to put his own plan of action into motion is met by an unusual chain of events that redirect him onto a pathway that leads straight to the place where he was initially instructed to go. Upon arrival, he reluctantly takes up the task at hand and his efforts, although half-hearted, result in overwhelming success. The man quietly leaves, ultimately finding peace in solitude.

The story, as it was recorded historically, is that of Jonah & The Whale. Where each of us may fall on the scale of fact or fiction is not important. Whether it was a Whale or a Great Fish doesn’t matter much either. In and of itself, the story carries some amazing insight into how life happens while we are busy making other plans.

At the beginning of each year we set aside time to make “plans” which we often tuck neatly under the header of “resolutions.” Resolution springs from the root word, resolve, which by definition implies a measure of determination to accomplish a targeted goal or task. Simply put, we make plans.

Oddly enough, the foundational definition of resolve also means: to break something down into its original parts. This process is known as disintegration. Plans fall apart or life happens.

Destiny vs Free Will

It’s an interesting discussion. And, depending on your degree of enthusiasm for your point-of-view, it can potentially be an explosive argument.

Some equate DESTINY with Fatalism. Que Sera, Sera. Whatever will be, will be. FREE WILL has been cast as the ultimate self-fueled power to go against the grain while carving an unwavering pathway through the thicket by shear will power. Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. (W. Clement Stone)


Isn’t life,
this thing that happens
while we’re busy
making other plans

a mixture of both?

Ultimately, DESTINY becomes the point of arrival and FREE WILL the path taken to arrive. Transitioning from here to there often includes things unexplained, interlaced with things unplanned. Life is woven by unrelenting circumstances pushing us towards unpredictable scenarios.


It’s not practical to eliminate all planning, neither is it within our nature. However, it could prove beneficial to accept that there are times when we are granted a measure of control and other times when we are merely asked to hang on for the ride. One is not a sign of triumph. The other is not a mandate for disaster.


I understand that there are things that I may never understand. These things are not less important, nor more mysterious. They serve purpose individually and bring value to the collective. They may be the result of my choosing. They may have chosen me.

They are a part of life happening, while I was busy making other plans. And in hindsight, they often make for a heck of a fish story.

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