Beauty in the Spontaneous
All my life I had Saturday chores and there was no way around them. Beg, borrow and steal but you were doing those before you did anything else. If I had a baseball game at 2:00pm, I got up and knocked the chores out so I was sure to be done on time, not a problem right? Well, if I didn’t have something planned for the day what do you think I did? Slept in, watched TV, goofed around, etc. Tragedy always struck when an unforeseen opportunity presented itself and I was left with 2 hours of scrubbing left to do because I squandered my time doing things of no value simply because I could. I would curse my parents when I had to tell my friends I couldn’t go to the movies or double date some fine hunnies but I knew it was my fault, not theirs. I had closed the door to the premise of spontaneity because I couldn’t motivate myself in the absence of urgent demands.
Spontaneity is by nature impulsive, and in a world of sterility, planning and order we think the two are at odds with each other when really, one should allow for the presence of the other. Remember that show Dharma and Greg? He’s an uptight lawyer who wears a suit and she’s a free spirited hippy who does yoga and floats in the wind but somehow, they are functionally in love! How could it be that two seemingly contrasting ideologies result in a symbiotic relationship that is more than the sum total of it’s parts? It worked because both order and impulse are needed if we are to live a full life. Operating exclusively in the spontaneity category would leave us with a great width of experiences but nothing of depth whereas subscribing solely to planned directives leave you with a life that lacks color, wildness and change.
From a spiritual perspective it has been said many times that when man plans, God laughs. In order to be truly in union with the Lord’s plan for our lives, we need to budget for a degree of uncertainty that would allow our God to intervene on our current path and redistribute us at another location where we can be better suited. That is not to say that we wait helplessly for our burning bush but rather as Thoreau put it, “Advance confidently in the direction of your dreams…”.
Expedia ran a campaign in 2013 where they asked people where their bucket list travel locations are and when they gave their answer, the host offered to buy their trip but with the catch that they needed to leave today. As you can imagine, the first reaction of most people was to shake their heads and say they couldn’t. I watched as the regret of their reality set in and they sadly walked away back to their TVs and safety of their mediocrity. However, for the brave soul who said yes, the experience of a lifetime awaited him!
Circling back to our spiritual lives I desire to be open to the idea of the Lord working in my life but with a clogged schedule, how can I expected to act when called upon? Jesus said the second coming will be like a thief in the night, those who are ready will be taken. So, if you are not a spontaneous person by nature, you are actually already halfway there! The next and last step is to simply be receptive to the inklings of our God, prepared to strike when the iron is hot.
Meal: When we lived in Atlanta for grad school my wife Anne and I would drive along I-75 a few times a year to get back home for holidays. We love supporting locally owned small businesses. So, we decided to always drive off the exit just a mile or two and find a bite to eat that didn’t involve a franchise or frozen burger patty. By just going off the trail for a couple of minutes, we found some of the most memorable and fun places to eat. In a world of Wendy’s and food ordered by the number, I encourage you to keep an eye’s peeled on the road less traveled.
Song: Blindside shredded harder in the 2000’s than Oroku Saki himself. This song, while face melting, also awoke in me the desire to depart from the monotonous drudge of getting by “until” and live “now”.
Prayer: Lord, I believe you are omnipotent and have a plan for me. Please allow me to recognize that plan, adapt accordingly to live the life YOU have given me.
Time: Build your schedule with intention so that you have moments between activities. These moments are where you can exercise your freedom to take another way, give a friend a ride, talk to a stranger or listen to God as you move throughout your day. I’ll end with a quote from Oprah Winfrey when she said “Take 5 minutes and center yourself. If you don’t have 5 minutes you don’t deserve the life of your dreams”.