On being … spontaneous

By Ingrid Sapona

I don’t have a particularly scheduled life. Indeed, one of the best things about working for myself is the fact that my days are largely my own. That said, I do have deadlines and occasional meetings, and I generally am in, or near, my home office during normal business hours, so that I can respond to clients.

And, like everyone else, my days get filled with routine things that need to get done that keep me busy: laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and so on. Social commitments and outings fill in the rest of the time and so before I know it, my calendar ends up as full as everyone else’s.

I’ve been thinking about being busy, in part, because December seems especially busy for many folks. Invariably work projects that have dragged on suddenly need to be finished before year’s end. And for many, the holidays bring stepped up social and family commitments.

But I’ve also been thinking about schedules because of the negative effect they have on spontaneity. I know that sounds obvious, but I’ll bet many of you’ve forgotten that of late. Worse still, you’ve probably forgotten how much fun you miss when you rationalize your way out of being spontaneous.

So, in hopes of inspiring you to let go of your schedule a bit – I thought I’d share a couple unexpected – you might say once-in-a-life-time – experiences I recently enjoyed because I decided to be spontaneous. About a month ago I had driven out to one of my favourite independent grocery stores because I thought they might have something I was looking for.  They did, so I was glad I made the 25 mile (one way) trip.

That day they were offering samples of a brand of yogurt I hadn’t heard of before. I stopped and tried it and chatted with the saleswoman. She explained the dairy’s been in existence for 40 years, but last year they started producing their own products and they opened to the public. I asked what that meant and she said they give tours. I’ve started work on a new app (the Ontario Culinary Trail) and it sounded like something I might want to cover in the new app. I noticed a map on the back of the business card she gave me and I made a mental note to check it out sometime.

Then I thought about it a bit more and I figured I was half way there already and it was a nice day for a ride – so I decided to go there. I found it with no problem but when I went in, I was disappointed to learn that in the winter you have to call ahead for a tour. I explained to the woman about the app and asked if I could look around and take a few photos. Before you know it, she was leading me on a kind of mini tour.

As it happened, that morning a cow had given birth. Next thing I know, she takes me in to see the mother and her newborn. And, as we stood there, the six-hour-old calf took its first tentative steps. Can you believe it? Me either – but I have the photos to prove it. Talk about being richly rewarded for my spontaneity!

Then, just yesterday – because I decided to abandon my previous plans – I had another unique experience. At about 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon I got an e-newsletter from a winery up north. In it they said they were looking for volunteers to help them pick icewine grapes on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. (For those unfamiliar with icewine, it’s a luscious dessert wine that’s quite an Ontario specialty. It’s made from grapes that remain on the vine throughout the fall and into the winter. The grapes are picked and pressed when they’re frozen.)

My immediate thought was that I wanted to do it. But that thought was immediately followed by a list of reasons why I couldn’t go. For starters, the winery is 100 miles (160 kms.) north of here. To get there on time I’d have to leave before 7 a.m. But I’m an early riser, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Then I thought about the weather. The winery newsletter specifically mentioned the wind chill and suggested dressing in layers. Well, I wasn’t worried about that because I know I’ve got the appropriate clothing, though I might have to dig some of it out. 

Then there was the issue of the driving conditions. A winter storm warning was in effect and we were expecting a significant accumulation. But with such a dire forecast, maybe there wouldn’t be so many people on the road, I figured. And then there were the tasks I had planned on doing on Saturday morning. But the truth is, they could wait.

As I sorted through the various excuses for why I shouldn’t go, I realized there would really never be a more convenient time to go icewine picking (or better conditions, given that it has to be cold enough for the grapes to freeze). So I e-mailed the winery and told them that unless the roads were impassable, I’d be there. Well, I went and it was really fun!

Had I not gone, my Saturday would have unfolded in the usual way, which is fine. But I wouldn’t have felt as invigorated or excited or as alive. All the way home I was grateful the opportunity presented itself and pleased that I decided – for a change – to be spontaneous.

I know you can’t plan to be spontaneous, but you can “reason” your way out of being spontaneous, which is a pity. So, next time an unforeseen opportunity presents itself, don’t let your schedule be your excuse. I guarantee the energy you get just by allowing yourself to be spontaneous will make it worthwhile.

© 2013 Ingrid Sapona


Post a Comment

<< Home