Discover more from Michelle Varghoose
My Unwritten Future
We Plan, God Laughs
A man in a makeshift cardboard robot costume blasted house music out of a boombox he had hidden in his cyborg belly. People gathered around him dancing freely to the beat in a way that only seems to happen in Dolores Park. Laying on a checkered blue and white picnic blanket nearby, I bathed in the warm sun and people watched.
Turning to my friend smiling, I said, “I will never leave San Francisco.”
A couple years later, I looked out into the city skyline from the top of the Fairmont Hotel as the crowd of people who had been listening to the live music in the Crown Room with me streamed out the main doors. I was deep in my own thoughts when a stranger popped up next to me.
“Why are you crying?” she asked, intruding into my introspective moment.
I blinked back tears, not realizing that anyone had noticed me let alone saw that I had a couple tears running down my cheeks. A combination of too much red wine and the foggy cityscape had made me emotional. She was the first person I ever told my secret too.
“I think I’m going to move out of San Francisco.”
A few months later, I packed my bags and flew to Austin. When I landed, I blasted Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten into my empty apartment and danced around.
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
The lyrics aligned so perfectly with my life at that moment that I felt the music in my bones, overtaking me with a rush of emotions. I knew big changes were happening in my life. My new job was the perfect next challenge to help me move up in my sales career. Austin was a city I had wanted to move to for years and I knew I was destined to build a community there.
Five months later, none of that was true. Covid shutdown Austin and the rest of the world. By the time the year ended, I lost my job and moved back to San Francisco to live with my parents.
That felt unexpected but it doesn’t compare to the fact that I now live in a small desert town. A place that I had no idea existed until the day my sister got an email from a clinic here asking if she’d be interested in interviewing.
“We plan, God laughs,” has always been one of my favorite quotes.
I think back on this phrase often, usually right when my life plans escape my tight grip, slipping through my fingers like a rogue balloon escaping into the sky.
I’ve come to accept that I have no real control over my future. Yes, I can try to play the long game, assume success and hope for an amazing outcome, but I’ve learned that life is always ready to throw a curveball. I’ve let go of trying to make the perfect plan.
People, though, have been curious to know what my plans for the future are. What are my goals? The subtext is often, “how do you plan on making money?”
I understand that, “I don’t know” can seem like a flippant, unfocused answer. It’s not specific, measurable, achievable, relevant or time bound. There is nothing S.M.A.R.T. about how I envision my future.
Still, I’m happy and feel fulfilled in the work that I’m doing. With every unexpected life event, I’ve learned to lean into the unknown. I optimize to make today a good day and hope that I can make tomorrow a good one too.
I enjoy writing and I would like to keep writing. If I can keep writing and money is coming in, that’s awesome. If more people find my essays and enjoy them, that’s even better. Ideally, I’ll get a little better with each piece I write too.
Part of manifesting a good life is letting go of the details, letting go of the need to control the outcome.
I’m leaning into new experiences, joining different online communities and turning strangers into friends. I’m cultivating an openness for a future that I may enjoy, but don’t know exactly what that looks like yet.
The art of writing itself has changed so much over time, how can I know what the future holds?
200 years ago, writing meant literally putting pen to paper. I’m not sure how that turned into a book. Maybe a buddy with a printing press could churn out a handful of copies for you.
A year ago, I was on a girls trip in Santa Fe, telling my friends, once again, that I wanted to start writing online. I was in the middle of a Masterclass marathon where I was attempting to watch the classes of all 22 writers in the course. I only got through about 4 when I decided I should take their advice, stop watching videos on writing and start telling my own stories.
Today, I write essays on something called a Substack which I created a mere six months ago. I’m dangerously close to sending this out to 600 of you (598). That’s wild. I had no idea I would be here.
In ten years, will I still be writing on Substack? Maybe. Or maybe I will be feeding my essays into a human shaped robot that translates my stories into little movies that it projects onto the ceiling.
As we watch my little robot movies, I’ll tell my kids that people who wrote things used to want to be something called a “New York Times Bestselling Author” and that you had to be courted by one of a handful of publishing companies to have a chance at achieving that.
Today, when people ask me about my future, my mind wanders to the infinite possibilities of tomorrow and I wonder if I can even come close to predicting the right reality.
All I know is that today I like writing. If I write an essay every week, I’m hoping something good will happen. Something that makes me happy and lets me keep doing what I enjoy doing.
As far as I’m concerned, everything else is still unwritten.
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Thank youfor discussing '“the future” with me and for giving me this theme as inspiration for this essay!