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Quite the World, Isn't It?

The year ahead: Plan, or live?

California, here we come, December 30, 1996.
Fifteen years ago today Margaret and I, with two young sons in tow, were in the final stages of a life-changing move. After nearly 18 months of walking a picket line (among other things) during the Detroit Newspaper strike, I took a reporting job with the Los Angeles Times, watched as the movers packed up our things, and after spending Christmas with Margaret's family in Rochester, New York, flew to Southern California on December 30, 1996.

It was a leap of faith in many ways. Margaret had been to San Francisco once, but otherwise hadn't been any farther West than Nebraska. I'd had a few more forays but, except for the job interview, had only spent a couple of days in Los Angeles, and that was to cover the 1987 visit by Pope John Paul II, so really had no idea what the place was about.

My job with the Times lasted three more years (though I still freelance for them) than did my nine-year job with The Detroit News, and at 15 years, I've lived here in Irvine longer than any other place in my life. Maybe it's a function of the way we landed here, amid tumult and uncertainty, but at a deep level it still feels temporary.

Or maybe it's a function of the seasons. And I don't mean that old Easterner's lament about missing the changing colors of fall, the first snowflakes of winter, that musty smell of warmth carried on the first warm winds of spring. It has more to do with how someone whose formative years were spent in the Northeast marks time.

Memories tend to cleave along the fractures of the year. Events back East didn't happen two Februaries ago, but two winters ago. Or five summers ago. Here, in a place where the seasons are marked by the length of the day, and the relatively slight ebb and flow of temperatures, time has a sense of standing still. We moved here fifteen winters ago. Or at the start of this endless summer.

So fifteen years feels like a few blips, not the span of our younger son's cognizant lifetime. What has happened through all those changeless seasons? A lot of journalism. Some book writing. A little parenting here and there, and some time off on our own with Margaret. And significantly over the last three years of freelancing and book writing, I've found I've been doing less planning, which I've also found has meant less stress.

Love, work, and play - quite the trifecta. As John Lennon once sang, life is what happens while making other plans. So in the year ahead, plan a little less, live a little more....
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