Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Guess John Lennon--or Allen Saunders--Was Right

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." While this quotation is widely attributed to John Lennon, it was not he who originated it. Lennon did work it into one of his songs, "Beautiful Boy," but according to the Yale Book of Quotations editor Fred R. Shapiro, the origin is attributed to writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders. A variation of the quote, "Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans," was published in Reader's Digest in January 1957, when Lennon was 17.

I confess to having been among the misinformed regarding the true author, except that I have always been a bit skeptical that Lennon could have been the source of such a profound statement of truth. It was apparently that skepticism that prompted me to check it out before casting it in front of sharp-eyed readers, one of whom may have pounced upon the gaffe and assailed me for laziness in fact-checking.

You may ask, "What does this have to do with your RV travel adventures, Mike?" Well, just about everything, it seems. Most RVers-including me--have often said that our travel plans are made in Jell-O®. That's a somewhat trite way to say much the same thing as Lennon's--or rather Saunders'--more eloquent quotation.

In the previous post, I mentioned our preparations for a trip to Colorado that was scheduled for this week. Unfortunately, it's not going to happen, and it's Bubba's fault. (You may recall that we were planning to caravan with Bubba and LouAnn during the first part of our Colorado trip.) Bubba suffered a calamity with his beautiful and much-loved motorhome a few days ago that rendered it unusable for our trip.  

Now you should know that I have agonized as to whether I should even mention my old friend's mishap in this post, but there is such a good lesson in it that I felt I had to refer to it as gently as possible. I think he will be okay with it, because he is normally a very safe and cautious person who will good-naturedly endure a bit of discomfort if he knows his story could benefit others.

In referring to the mishap, let's just say that it is a good idea to make sure that anything protruding from your motorhome--like a slideout, for instance--has been fully retracted before driving it into an RV storage unit whose door frame is, uh, a snug fit.  I don't think I need to elaborate any further, except to say that the consequences of doing so can be breathtakingly expensive. I couldn't even bring myself to include a photograph of the result; it would just have been too painful. Here is a "before" photo of Bubba and LouAnn with an unblemished "Woody":

If Bubba were writing this, he would share with you his resolution to employ in the future a cockpit warning flag to alert him of any configuration of the coach that could result in catastrophe (and lots of uncharacteristic expletives) upon moving the coach when he shouldn't. After my having attempted to comfort him in his anguish (no, I did not shoot him, as he begged me to do), I have decided to take his lesson to heart and affix to Phannie's steering wheel a fail-safe warning flag of my own.

Bubba's Very Bad Day was not the only deciding factor for postponing this trip, however.  Because of the good times we have always shared when RVing together, we really wanted to get away to the mountains and had planned this trip with Sandy's deferring until later some much-needed attention to an arthritic condition of hers called spinal stenosis. This is a narrowing of the area of her neck containing the spinal cord, and the condition can be quite painful (to which she can readily attest). Now, in view of the ignominious incapacitation of Bubba's coach, we have decided to postpone the trip and get Sandy ready for a surgical procedure sooner rather than later.  She will enjoy traveling much more if she can be more comfortable.

If you've been following this blog for the least few years, you know that Sandy and I have had our share of medical issues as I neared retirement. Since we have both been in very good health all our lives, we had hoped we would sail into retirement and not be too limited by the infirmities that often accompany the aging process. Thankfully, those annoying ailments that have come our way have been mostly restricted to bones and joints and, mercifully, they have been fixable through prayer, modern medicine and good insurance.

I must confess that, during my last few working years, I was quite conflicted about when to retire, always wondering if staying the extra time--just to make sure we were financially ready--was the best idea. I desperately didn't want our retirement story to be one cut short because I stayed in the working grind too long.  We think we chose our time wisely, and we are very thankful that we have not suffered truly debilitating health problems, but life really is what happens while we're making other plans, isn't it?  So, our advice would be not to delay your retirement dream a minute longer than absolutely necessary and trust the good Lord to take care of the Jell-O®.


  1. Oh Mike, you are so funny! We've got to meet you and your wife some time. Poor Bubba and Woody! We all hope to learn his lesson, thank you Bubba for that.

  2. Ouch ... so sorry about Bubba's mishap ... a lesson to all. Funny (not really) ... we were talking about this just last night when we saw a picture in the FMCA magazine ... a driver who puts swim noodles on the slideouts, had a piece of noodle on his steering wheel as a reminder. we don't use swim noodles, but wondered if some kind of a warning for open slides might be warranted.

    Your words about not delaying retirement dreams is oh so true ... potential age-related infirmities was what led us to retire (or rather, leave the work force) early so we could follow some of our travel dreams. Good luck to Sandy with the surgery; wishing her a quick recovery.

  3. I agree about not waiting. I agonized for several years while Craig slowly got the house into shape. How much money is enough? Who knows. Maybe we will be poor someday, but then maybe we will be dead. We are spending our kids inheritance. We did without for a lot of years. Now is our time.

  4. LOVE this post. You are such a gifted writer...I'm so thankful you retired when you did so you could be free to come party with us!! Love you XOXO

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