Being Spontaneous Is Good For The Soul

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Most people who know me well would describe me as pretty organized and on top of things. I am also so busy all the time that I honestly have to put everything in my calendar so that I know what is happening. As a result of having so much on my plate, I am rarely able to make last minute plans. I often give people the impression that I am all work and no play, and that I am always serious.

But I am a spunky one and thrive on variety. Though I like consistency and stability, I am always keen on new adventures, and much like a horse in a corral, I go a bit stir crazy when I am cooped up in a place or a situation for too long. As a result, the spontaneous part of me sometimes takes over, and I will do something out of character. I honestly wish I had more of a chance to do something on a moment’s notice, but I am a grownup, with a career and some pretty big goals which require my focus and attention.

Every once in a while, I have to contend with last minute schedule changes which usually make me feel anxious. It is pretty challenging for me to have to completely rearrange my schedule when one event shifts, because a domino effect occurs. However, I have been more adaptable in recent weeks, and have even found myself changing things up without having a compulsion to resist the changes. Instead of rushing home after work to do even more work, I have recently allowed myself to visit friends, lounge on the sofa with a cat or two, or take myself out to dinner after a particularly long day.

I also love finding a gap in my schedule and throwing a weekend getaway into the mix, because it enables me to recharge my batteries, escape the rhythm of my regular schedule, and have a little fun. There is also a part of me which yearns for international travel, so much so that I am willing to move everything around to accommodate a visit to another country. My attitude is that life is short, and that you only live once. I have no intention of waiting until the “perfect” time to travel or take a vacation, especially since I was stuck in that mindset for far too long during my 20’s and 30’s. If I can visit a different country ever year or so, I will be a happy camper.

Who knows, you might see me visiting a new country very soon!

Spontaneity

Some people fly by the seats of their pants constantly and love navigating through life that way. Ideas like last-minute dinner plans, jaunts to the movie theater, or an unplanned weekend road trip flow through their minds like a constant river stream. I think that’s fine if you have enough free time to randomly throw new things into the mix, but I am the exact opposite. It’s not that I am incapable of being spontaneous, but with the packed schedule I have, I can’t just drop everything and do something unplanned at the last minute.

Here’s the extent of my spontaneity. If, by some odd and rare chance, I have a day or weekend which is not jam-packed, and someone contacts me to see if I can get together for a movie, dinner or other outing, I still need at least a day’s notice so that I can schedule my gym time and make sure that any random chores or errands I might have been planning to do get moved to another time or day. If it’s a weekend road trip or other getaway, I will never be available on a moment’s notice. I simply never have more than one free day on a weekend. As a matter of fact, I cannot fathom the idea of having an entire weekend free and wide open unless I move heaven and earth to make such a thing occur!

I can’t help but feel that there are two strong correlations at work when it comes to living spontaneously. First off, I have noticed that my friends who are very spontaneous on a consistent basis have creative careers and VERY flexible schedules which give them the freedom to move things around. In many cases they can work from home or, in some cases, completely take off from work. The other thing that I have noticed is that my more spontaneous friends tend to have attention deficit disorder, and are accustomed to bouncing around mentally. Both of these correlations are beginning to make me think that creative brilliance and attention deficit disorder go hand in hand.

Difficulties arise when a spontaneous spirit becomes shackled by a rigid schedule. Even the most spontaneous person, provided that person is responsible, will not be able to let loose and do things at the last minute if he or she has a crazy work schedule. It’s quite possible that my spontaneous energy got squashed many years ago when I began medical school, but I am more inclined to believe that I have always been more organized and regimented, and have sought the structure which defines my daily life. We create the environments in which we live.

Another thing I have noticed personally is that when I do something spontaneous, there are certain harsh critics in my life who will always question my decisions and make me feel as if I have made a terrible mistake by allowing myself to get a small taste of personal freedom. It has been a challenge to stand strong and support my beliefs when I make a decision which seems to be spontaneous or random to these critics. After all, I rarely change the rhythm of my life, and I think such a habit is in some respect a bit damaging to my spirit. My sense of wonder and fun often gets squashed by all of my career responsibilities and other obligations which keep me locked into a certain predictability.

Probably the most spontaneous thing I have done this year is to decide to see a movie by myself, and it was one of the most enjoyable days of the year. I had made a snap decision on a Saturday around noon to see a film I very much wanted to see which had just been released (“Grand Budapest Hotel”). I checked showtimes, finished my workout, went home to shower and change, then two hours later, was sitting in a movie theater by myself. Instead of waiting to schedule the activity into my busy schedule, I had just said, “screw it” and reworked my schedule to accommodate a fun two hour date with myself.

In conclusion, I believe that a certain amount of spontaneity, especially when added to a particularly demanding schedule, is healthy. I also think the “birds of a feather” concept applies when it comes to degrees of spontaneity. Spontaneous people should hang out with each other, while individuals who are more regimented would be better off scheduling outings with each other. Otherwise, a spontaneous person could get extremely frustrated, while the more rigid person would only become anxious with the last minute ideas a spontaneous person always seems to present.