Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Best Laid Plans*

Yesterday I spent some time on the North Texas Irish Festival website, looking at the schedule of performances and trying to decide who I was going to see when.  This is something that I really enjoy doing before I go to a Scottish/Irish/Celtic festival, and I sometimes get a bit aggravated if it's close to the time of the festival and they haven't yet published the schedule.  NTIF did it well; the schedule was up a little over a month before the festival (March 1-3, 2013; if you're interested.)  Now, my personal schedule is certainly subject to change if I happen to walk by a stage where someone I hadn't planned on hearing is playing and they sound fantastic, or if someone I had intended to see only once is really good and I decide to go to more than one of their sets, etc., but the point is that I find the process of going through the schedule, looking at videos of groups I'm not familiar with on YouTube, and coming up with at least a rough plan is enjoyable.  Whether I actually follow my plan to the letter is less important than the planning itself.

I've realized over the last several years that this is true not just for festivals, but for trips.  I have been to Scotland four times, all of which were on Ed Miller's Folksong Tour of Scotland (, but the last two times, instead of just going on the tour, I arrived a few days early and spent time in Glasgow and/or Edinburgh before the tour started.  Many months before each of these trips, I spent lots of time surfing the net, looking for fun things to do and interesting places to go in each of these cities.  For the 2010 trip, I was meeting a friend in Glasgow, so we kept emailing back and forth with our respective lists of things we wanted to do there and in Edinburgh (for the portion of a day we had there before the tour.)  Even though we ended up not doing a lot of it, it was still great fun to anticipate the trip.  For the 2012 trip, I had a few days in Edinburgh by myself (part of which I discussed in this post.)  Starting more than six months before the trip, I spent hours and hours on the internet looking at not only what there was to do, but where everything was in relation to my hotel and in relation to everything else, and planning the order in which I would do things.  I had a minor crisis a month or two before the trip, when I discovered that a few of the places on my itinerary (including the hotel itself!) were not where I thought they were--but then I got to revamp the order of things on my itinerary, and that was fun too, almost like planning the trip all over again.  And, happily, both the 2010 and the 2012 "pre-tour" vacation days lived up to my expectations.

I suppose you can apply this to life in general.  It's about the journey, not the destination.  Or something like that.

*The title is a misquoted (by a lot of people, not just me) version of a line from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse."  The actual quote is "the best laid schemes [emphasis mine] o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley" but I thought "plans" made more sense, given the topic of this post.  But it's Robert Burns...even misquoted, you can't get much more Scottish than Burns!

If you're interested in the acts I'm planning to see at NTIF, here are links to some of their performances.
The Barra MacNeils
Sliabh Notes
Brian McNeill (the whole thing is great, but if you prefer more "upbeat" fiddle music, start at the 3 minute mark; if you prefer insanely fast fiddle music, start at about the 5 minute mark)
There are more, but this is at least a brief sampling to give you an idea.

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