“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
—Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
My knee-jerk reaction, based on the Cat’s mocking pronouncements and my own personality, is to assume that one should have a plan. Meandering aimlessly is for lost souls and losers, right?
Well, I myself can argue otherwise with a literal example: travel. I write travel books on Hawai‘i, and people often ask me where to go, what to see, which accommodations are best. While I have no shortage of suggestions, I’m often stumped because I don’t know a person’s particular preferences.
Ultimately, you must know yourself well to travel well: to choose a destination (and purpose and pace) that reflects what you enjoy rather than what’s trendy. People with keen interests (whether hiking or yoga, botany or the arts) are wise to plan ahead, to ensure the right equipment, workshop space, or tickets to a show. Yet, over-planning is not the answer. Who knows what you’ll discover along the way? Why be tethered to a plan if it proves misguided on the road?
In yoga, we eventually know (or should know) the basics of alignment and form and quieting the mind—and which type of practice suits us. But beyond that, do we really know where we’re going with yoga? At that level, we’re mostly just walking along, trying to keep a steady pace, hoping to reach a good place. Likewise, in the big scheme of life, it’s also a balancing act between foresight and freedom, knowing and not knowing.