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Five year plan

Five year plan

by Wolf Pascoe on December 16, 2011

Repent the day before you die. — The Talmud

Here’s something for the season of giving.

When Big Little Wolf began her campaign to raise money for a renal transplant for Ashley Quiñones, the odds looked insurmountable. The bill was going to be a quarter of a million dollars.

“I have to do something,” she said.

Two weeks ago, Medicaid reversed its decision to withold funds for the transplant, and the bill dropped to $50,000. Counting money raised by the family, and BLW’s campaign, Ashley is now within $20,000 of her goal.

As part of her efforts, BLW asked her community to think of what they might want to be doing in five years, and to write a post about it. Because being alive five years from now is an assumption.

As is, the Talmud implies, being alive tomorrow.




The wind one day washed my soul in jasmine, and said,
‘In return, give me the scent of your roses.’

‘My roses are dead,’ I said.

‘Then give me the withered petals,
the yellow leaves, and water.’

When the wind was gone, I wept.
What had I done with the garden entrusted to me?

— Antonio Machado

Nick is the garden entrusted to me. In five years time he will be fourteen. Fourteen was the age I came into my sense of personhood. Not to say I became an adult, but something more than a child. I began not to assume things. I don’t know if it will be the same for Nick at fourteen, but my plan is to be around when he gets there.

My other plan, newly hatched, is to be making a living at writing by then.

What of Big Plans? What of raising a quarter of a million for a kidney transplant for someone you barely know? What of our national descent into corporate oligarchy?

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
If not now, when?

— Hillel




Not long ago, I had lunch with Bruce Dolan, of Privilege of Parenting.

“What’s your plan to fix this country?” he said to me, as I worked on a bowl of spaghetti checka.

“A constitutional amendment to ban money from politics,” I said. “And yours?”

“Guaranteed maternal work leave for the first 18 months of life,” he said.

Mine was an external plan, rules from above to level the playing field. His got at the thing from inside, a vision about a nation of kids raised with secure attachments who would grow into a nation of un-selfish adults.

Which is a vision about the power of love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is slow to anger, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Corinthians, 13:4-8

The money that Big Little Wolf caused to be added to Ashley Quiñones’s transplant fund made only a small dent in the bill. But her example of generosity gave the family heart in their fight against an unjust medical system. I call that love, and a demonstration of love’s power.

No plan that excludes love has much of a chance.

I don’t want writing to be a plan without love. It’s not an issue of writing for money versus writing for a cause. I’m pretty sure what it comes down to is whom you’re writing to, and the way you’re writing to them.

I’m pretty sure it takes more courage to write a love note than to try to change someone.


Mr. Rogers speaks to Congress

You can read all about it on BLW’s magnificent blog, Daily Plate of Crazy. There’s a link to donate at the end of the post.



Occupy Wall St. — Talk about big plans.



What’s your five year plan? (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

BigLittleWolf December 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

A small clarification if I may; it was Kristen at Motherese who, in sharing my post, crafted the first of the Five Year Plans, and many other followed. I thank you for joining in this effort – not only as a means to continue raising funds for Ashley’s transplant, but as a reflective exercise that we can all benefit from.

Kelly’s posts, which you reference above, are beautifully written and she, naturally, is keeping us all updated.

In writing these five year plans (in my case, attempting and not arriving), we take the opportunity to reflect in ways we might not, without our assumptions of reasonable health. We also learn from the beautiful words of others. Nick, as your garden to tend. This is gorgeous, and touching, and the poetic mission of the engaged parent.

You and Bruce both understand this, and that we must parent each other – those of our blood, those we take as our blood, and those whom we may never have met.

Kristen’s post: http://mothereseblog.com/2011/11/16/the-five-year-plan/


Wolf Pascoe December 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Thanks for clarifying, BLW. That Kristen, she is so there.


Kristen @ Motherese December 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Man, what I wouldn’t give to have been a third wheel at your lunch with Bruce.

My 5 year plan? Like you, I want to be a writer when I grow up. I also want to grow in love as a mother and a wife and a friend. Oh, and maybe get back to Paris with my husband.

My big idea for the country? Quit tying school funding to property taxes. But I’d be okay with yours and/or Bruce’s too.


Wolf Pascoe December 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Can I be a third wheel in Paris?


Sirena December 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I love you.


Wolf Pascoe December 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I love you too, whoever you are.


Privilege of Parenting December 17, 2011 at 1:20 am

Let’s do all the good things—together, with love, having as much fun as we can muster.

And let’s make it four wheels and head to Provence… where we can really think about some great ideas.


Wolf Pascoe December 17, 2011 at 1:38 am

Here’s to that, compañero.


BigLittleWolf December 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Hey guys! Don’t you need someone who actually speaks French on this trip? (You can be the wheels, I’ll wear my stilettos and be the guide… )



Wolf Pascoe December 18, 2011 at 12:10 am

I can say pommes frites.
Nothing to it.


Barbara S. December 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Okay, first of all, I want in on this trip to Paris or Provence or wherever we’re going! Either one is fine with me.
Next, how wonderful that BLW is using her words to help financially and emotionally someone she barely (if at all) knows. My 5-year-plan? To be successful enough at at least one of my dreams (writing or photography or, heck, both) to be out of debt, able to help others financially as well as with my words.


Wolf Pascoe December 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Okay, you come too. Let’s all be out of debt! And kick all the banks out of Congress!


pamela December 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I don’t want writing to be a plan without love.

Sounds like a 5 year plan to me. xoxo


Wolf Pascoe December 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm

We should talk about this in Paris.


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