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It's Important to Include Spontaneity In Your Life

Hippies on 2CVThe other night we were just about to shut the lights out and go to sleep when Maude remembered that it was the night the Geminid meteor shower was at its peak. Phil looked out the window and immediately saw one cross the sky, so we decided to get dressed again, bundle up and head into our back garden for a look at the heavens. Outside it was a really clear, still night. We pulled a bench into the middle of the area, cuddled up in a fuzzy blanket, leaned back and immersed ourselves in the darkness. The more we sat there, the more stars and constellations we saw. And the stars fell. We sat a long time, pointing and exclaiming like children every time one streaked across the sky.

It was a profound experience of being present and a joyous celebration of life. We were so happy that we had done it, shared it, and had that pleasure that spontaneity can bring. The experience lived with us for days afterwards.

And yet it is so difficult to take time out for such things. We have heard from many people the plaint that they are busier than ever during this time of lock-downs and closures, and how strange this is when so many former activities are not available: dropping in on a movie, visiting friends, taking off for a day trip and staying overnight somewhere, going to the library, splurging on a day spa.

That time has been filled up with other things – the many zoom calls we have substituted for visits and classes, helping with children and grandchildren who are home all day, and the relatives we may have moved into our homes during these times.

Those activities provide structure to our lives, and offer a sense of security and control. Maybe we need that more than ever in this annus horribilis, as the Queen might describe 2020; maybe they’re a way to muffle the sounds of society crumbling around us.

But having so much structure squeezes out its complement of randomness. There is a book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron which is a wonderful course that helps writers and artists in all fields come into contact with their creativity. It has two exercises that should be done religiously. One is morning pages – to write three pages each day about anything at all, and then never to look at them again.

The other is an artist date, when, once a week, you take yourself off alone for a few hours to do something different and playful just for fun – walk, draw, visit a museum, sing. This simple spontaneous event calls forth a well of creativity and is surprising in its scope. It must be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated. Yet for us and for everyone we know, this is one of the most difficult exercises to do. Two hours a week! How hard can it be to set that time aside? Yet it is. Everyone is too busy to get to it, never finding time to go off and do it regularly. Maybe that is because we are fearful of the lack of structure, of the unknown. And yet this is where life, creativity and growth occur.

And so it is with relationships.

In a relationship, there is much comfort that comes from structure. The sharing of tasks, the pleasure of cooperation, the anticipation of Netflix nights; all contribute to a sense of well-being. Yet the most memorable times are often when we step off these well-worn tracks.

But doing this is not so easy. Just as with an artist date, it has been hard for us to make room for spontaneity in our life, despite both knowing the benefits it brings us. It is a challenge to catch when we are on autopilot, take the wheel and drive with intention. When one of us notices, we invite the other along for the ride, and hallelujah, they usually accept.

Our night under the starry skies brought back how important these spontaneous moments are to us individually and for our relationship. They are full of pleasure and inspiration. They can ease tensions, give us hope and fill us with the wonder of the present moment.

Whether you live alone or with others, we strongly recommend incorporating novelty and adventure into your days. Even with the restrictions we are all now experiencing, there are many opportunities available. Break out those paints, climb that mountain, dance to the music!

Photo credit: Jon Blogg (Maude shown on the left)

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All We Want for Christmas...

Phil and Maude in "World Peace" masks

Our thanks to Lawrence and Rita Gelber at https://www.ideclareworldpeace.org/

Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about the balance between structure and spontaneity and how the latter is where life, creativity and growth occur. Here are some discussions about spontaneity in the time of Covid-19.

Has the coronavirus killed our spontaneity — or just reigned in our impulsivity? "The group text read: “Let’s barbecue on my back porch tonight.” It was a simple message, but full of meaning: An end to the worst of the COVID-19 lockdown, a return to life as we once knew it, a hope that we might indeed be able to enjoy this summer after all. But then the planning began. “Do you want to bring your own chairs?” “What about food? Should we just each provide our own?” Back and forth we all went, addressing in detail how we would manage spacing, eating, using the toilet. So much for spontaneity."

Live in the Moment: Spontaneity Could Be Key To Happiness, Survey Suggests "They say the only constant in life is change, but many people do their best to avoid change as much as they can. Humans are naturally creatures of habit, but according to a new survey, perhaps we should all throw our day planners out the window. A recent poll of 2,000 Americans finds that people who consider themselves 'spontaneous' are 40% more likely to see themselves as a 'happy person.'"

How to Keep Your Relationship Healthy During the Coronavirus Pandemic "You love your significant other, and both of you want to avoid the coronavirus involved in the global pandemic, and COVID-19, the disease it causes. So you’re isolating yourselves at home. After several weeks, you might find that all that extra togetherness is overwhelming. How do you maintain harmony and not drive each other crazy?"

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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