It’s Important to Include Spontaneity In Your Life
The 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.
Our most memorable times are often when we step off the well-worn tracks of life #relationships Click To TweetAnd 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)