Reflection: I grew up on a farm on the prairies at a time when people lived far enough apart that a visit was something to be treasured. Neighbors often dropped by unannounced. And when that happened, the work was set aside and a fresh pot of coffee went on the stove.
If friends or family dropped in around mealtime, we added a few more potatoes to the pot, and set a few more plates and chairs around the table. We called it prairie hospitality. It came naturally – was just the way you lived and were.
These days our lives seem far more scheduled and crowded. I’ve seen people spend ten minutes comparing calendars and commitments in an attempt to find a shared open space for a visit, a coffee, or a lunch at some future place and time.
A series of recent events reminded me of the joy of spontaneity.
I’d promised to attend a friend’s 60th birthday party – going right from the airport to the party already in progress. When my flight was delayed and the hour too late to put in an appearance, I was bummed.
Two days later I found myself with an hour between commitments on my friend’s side of town. So I drove over and knocked on her door unannounced – birthday card and gift in hand. She answered. We laughed. She asked if I had time for lemonade and a visit in the back yard. I did. We enjoyed an impromptu visit and a better chat than we would have been able to manage at the party.
The next day I poured myself a glass of wine after work, and found myself wondering whether another friend who lived 600k away might just be enjoying an end of day glass of wine at her end. So I picked up the phone and dialed her number. She was there and happily inclined to share a bevy and a catch up in the moment.
The day after that, as my husband and I headed out for a late afternoon meeting, we called my Mom to see if she might like to join us for a last minute dinner after our meeting. She did – and so we swung by and picked her up – and enjoyed both a great meal and a great conversation with very little planning and advance notice.
Action: While it can be delightful to look forward to planned events on our calendar, do we need to always plan and schedule our lives so far in advance in such detail?
Maybe just a tad more often we could let life unfold more naturally – paying attention to the impulse to connect and acting on it when it arises. Sometimes it’ll work, and sometimes it won’t. But there’s a delightful sparkle of joy when a last minute impromptu plan comes together with ease.
Quotes Of The Week: It’s not the busyness that bothers me, it’s the planning. Anything I do spontaneously is five hundred times more enjoyable. – Heather Schwager
What whispered calling or fresh impulse may be giving us an opportunity in this moment to experience our intended outcome (and more!) in ways that we could never have planned. – Chip Richards
Sometimes the greatest memories are made in the most unlikely of places, further proof that spontaneity is more rewarding than a meticulously planned life. – J.A. Redmerski
You can devise all the plans in the world, but if you don’t welcome spontaneity; you will just disappoint yourself. ― Abigail Biddinger
Some of the most thrilling things in life are done on impulse. ― Syrie James
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell
Resources Of The Week: Will Spontaneous or Scheduled Weekends Make You Happier? I’m not sure this INC article gives you a definitive answer, but it does offer a few insights on this question
If you’d like a few laughs and chuckles based on the element of surprise, check out the Improv Everywhere blog posts. Improv Everywhere goes to great lengths with their positive pranks to surprise and delight random strangers. They are definitely shaking life up in unpredictable ways:
Readers Write: In response to last month’s message, Will Your Memories Last A Lifetime, Pause reader JG writes: When I travel, I send myself a postcard with bullet points of “Things to remember about <fill in location>.” I usually receive it well after we have returned home and it is lovely to remember the experience. For everyday, I have a Word A Day journal – one of those small month-at-a-glance agendas. At the end of each day, I write a word or short phrase about something that stood out for me that day. I can look back six months and see “sunset walk from work” and remember that amazing sunset. I don’t remember EVERYTHING, but I certainly do try to capture those fleeting moments and experiences. Thanks for continuing to give me reason to PAUSE at the start my day.