Browsing through Borders Books twenty years ago, I chanced upon a writer’s delight. Famous faces appeared on cards with a quote and their signature. The words captured life unique to the luminary.

Did these folk the likes of Albert Einstein and Jane Austen know their convictions would influence future hungry minds? I recall Austen’s lines most intriguing. “Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation?”

It struck me odd, for I don’t perceive Austen’s female heroines as impulsive pleasure seekers. Austen’s novels develop patient women, Elizabeth Bennett for one. She waits with self-control and integrity for her true love. Just what does Austen imply by “seize the pleasure?”

Let’s suppose the author penned this thought toward the end of her brief walk on Earth. Perhaps she reached the vantage point to see both sides of life, and the sunset view scribed carpe diem across the horizon.

On the sunrise side of life we must exchange childhood spontaneity for planning and discipline to achieve their benefits, be it short or long-range goals. Einstein didn’t win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 by hanging out with the good ole boys at the local tavern.

Yet, he claimed, “Life is like riding a bicycle.”

Riding a bike is fun. Just what did Einstein infer? We must balance work and play to move forward in life? I’ve read the scientist put more stock in imagination than knowledge.

To “seize the pleasure at once” means to leave my kitchen sink to join the three little girls next door when they sledded on my hillside. Their laughter beckoned I join them. But I did not. Now they are grown and married with children of their own, and I cannot remember what chore was so important that wintry day.

It’s tough for a recovering perfectionist to change her habits. But I must because my life is

on the downside. Preparation has its place, yet to forsake spontaneity for foiled plans is a bitter result. It does no good to whine and throw myself into fits of anger and discouragement.

There’s nothing more blinding to the creative eye than “foolish preparation.” Therefore, I aim to seize the alternate option.

Personal responsibility is a necessary function to freedom and successful living, yet goals and plans spring forth from the well of dreams and visions. Just try to plan your dreams, those unannounced, marvelous gifts of the subconscious.

We’re wise to welcome them. Play with them like a child—throw them up in the air and catch them. Days will turn into weeks, weeks into months. Before we realize it, we’ll find ourselves planning and realizing a creative life.

Dear Reader, what proverb do you stand upon this New Year?

Perhaps ponder this at your kitchen sink and listen. Settle into your favorite hiding place or stroll your local library or bookstore. Words of life will come to you. Promise.

Thanks for the idea, Einstein. Life is like riding a bicycle.

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