Spontaneous Instruction: Going off in new directions with big ideas and little plans.
What does it mean to be spontaneous? Is it to have no plans, to go off on a whim, to explode for no reason? Partly. Mostly I think it means being open to new ideas and trying new things whenever you can.
Every month, I want to head off on a new spontaneous adventure, whether it’s to a new place or just trying something I’ve never tried or even heard of. With the excitement of brand new experiences, I can turn even the shortest trip into an adventure. There will be no itineraries, no reservations and little to no planning. Each adventure will start off as an idea, and hopefully blossom into a memorable experience. If it’s a bust, well, there’s always a way to turn things around.
It was a line from a Robert Burns poem, “The best laid plans of mice and men; go oft awry,” that inspired the book Of Mice and Men. Admittedly, when I was first assigned to read Of Mice and Men in school, I thought it was going to be about a pet store, then again I also thought the Grapes of Wrath was going to be about some bad juice.
My misinterpretations of Steinbeck aside, that line resonated with me. It not only inspired one of my favorite books, but it also inspired the way I think about travel. I learned very quickly that when traveling, I was one of those people who operated under Murphy’s Law. If I would plan a day body surfing and building old-school sandcastles, mounds of sand for those with less imagination, it would rain; if I would plan a delectable home-made picnic by the lake, it would rain; and if I would plan a day running through puddles in my galoshes, it wouldn’t rain.
Weather wasn’t the only reason my plans often fell to the wayside. People would cancel, places would close, empires would fall; nothing ever seemed to go exactly the way I planned it. I found that the best plan of action turned out to be no plan of action. When going on an adventure I realized that my most valuable tool wasn’t my itinerary, but the ability to adapt and go with the flow. The second most valuable tool: my GPS, because while I do support going out without knowing exactly where you’re going, it’s nice to know how to get back.
I want to teach you how to go with the flow. They say those who can’t do, teach. Well, I don’t know if I can “teach” but I can certainly “do.” So hopefully if you follow my adventures, you can pick up a few tricks along the way.
You should always have an idea of what you want to do, not a plan. Plans are concrete, ideas are liquid. A plan stays the same while an idea can move, change and be adapted. I do think plans have their uses. For big trips out of the country it might be a good idea to know where you’re staying and what a “passport” is.
On a short trip you just need to know you have enough money to get there and pay for whatever it is you like to do (e.g. eat, drink or be merry.) So have an idea of where you’d like your adventure to end up, sometimes even “East” is just enough for the best escapades.