MAKING MY PEACE … with unravelling plans


Making My Peace … with unravelling plans


Let’s face it. We make plans, lots of plans in life, and many of them just don’t work out as we had hoped or envisioned. And that’s what happened last week.

A mate from Australia was in Paris, where I live, and I’d planned a trip to an art gallery and a meal afterwards. I had even pre-paid the gallery tickets to avoid a queue. It was a simple plan. But it unravelled fast.

First, it was Tuesday, a day of national strike action in Paris. I had forgotten about that. I had forgotten that buses would not be available. As I looked out of the window, I was relieved to see taxis. Lots of taxis. No problem, then.

I picked up my mate from her location and explained the situation. I suggested we catch a cab along the way. As I tried to hail a cab, and another, and another, each driver quickly wagged a finger at me. Not possible, the drivers said. They were full, or would be full soon, or finishing their shift, or picking up bread for their mother.

We walked slowly on the shady side of the street in the June heat. In five to ten minutes up the street, I knew there would be a cab rank. Deep down in my mind, I had doubts, but remained optimistic. ‘This is France,’ I said to my mate. She was having difficulty walking in the heat with a sore foot. She was limping, and I was beginning to go through plan C, D, and even E in my mind.

We passed some cafés. They looked tempting. ‘Why don’t we skip the art gallery and go straight to a restaurant,’ she said. ‘Really, our aim is to talk, to catch up, to natter. We can see pretty paintings another time.’ We had arrived at the cab rank, but there were no cabs. Not one.

I sighed. Her plan was a great plan. I recognized a jolly restaurant slightly ahead, on the opposite side of the street, where I often got off the bus after returning from day trips north of Paris. The yellow candy-striped awnings made me want to go there one day. That day had arrived. I explained to my mate that we should cross the street and in three minutes we’d be seated. Was that an eye-roll, I noticed? Would that plan unravel too?

We crossed the street, and in three minutes we were there. It was a brasserie – which meant that the café has continuous service, with meals served all day.

The waiter was welcoming. The table was in a quiet spot, ideal for talking. The menu was great, and the ambience was light and bright and relaxing. We had found a cosy place to natter. The waiter’s menu suggestions were perfect. The meals served were delicious, and the banter with the waiter was spontaneous and fun. What more could we ask for? We were in French heaven. We even received a complimentary profiterole for dessert – to entice us to return to Café Jeannette.

Yes, our plans had unravelled. We did not go to the gallery, and the pre-paid tickets went unused. But sometimes, when plan A doesn’t work out, plan B is better. Much better. Way better. Memorably better.

In fact, we did return to Café Jeannette a week later.

Making my peace with unravelling plans, I learned the following:

  • Go with the flow
  • Know that sometimes life has a better plan
  • Live in the moment
  • Recognize that a true friend makes wise suggestions
  • Heed the suggestions of wise friends
  • Don’t fret transport strikes: make use of the stillness
  • Enjoy a good natter with a good mate
  • Know that great memories can come from plans that have unravelled
  • Laugh at the adage: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.



Martina Nicolls: Rainy Day HealingMAKING MY PEACE






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