Editor’s Column: The Best Laid Schemes

Those of Scottish heritage may know that last Monday, Jan. 25, was Burns Night, the celebration of 18th century Scottish poet and bard Robert Burns, whose most well-known ode is “Auld Lang Syne.”

Burns also wrote a poem in 1785 titled “To a Mouse” after he accidently upended a field mouse’s nest with a plow. Hence the saying, as we hear it today, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Steinbeck adopted the phrase for his classic novel, “Of Mice and Men.”

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Gang aft aftley

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,

For promis’d joy!

~ Robert Burns, Scottish Poet

Most of us like to plan ahead… for good things. We plan to celebrate birthdays, we plan to get married, we plan vacations, we plan for things we want to happen. We don’t plan — most of us, anyway — for things we don’t want to happen. Our culture tends to consider that kind of planning a little morbid most of the time.

Insurance helps us plan ahead for those events to a degree. Training classes like “what to do in an earthquake” or “stop, drop and roll” or “how to escape a pit of quicksand” are meant to help us prepare for the unexpected. I think most of us thought quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem in adulthood than it has been so far. I also haven’t caught myself on fire yet, nor have I been in an earthquake of any substantial magnitude, but I know people who have.

Still, life tends to throw surprises our way and those unanticipated events can leave us reeling, and the recovery process is slow and difficult. But it’s not impossible.

Modern poet and author Maya Angelou perhaps provided the best advice: “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”


By NIKI TURNER – editor@ht1885.com