Spontaneity

I’d been thinking about making a trip to Prague, but deliberately not buying a ticket until yesterday, which is why I’m on a bus today, writing this post from my phone, which is only one of the firsts in this sentence.

Prague is also a first, as is traveling in Europe by bus.

I think this might also put me ahead of my mother in our world capitals race: she had a head start and has been keeping up by coming to visit me wherever I go. We share London, Edinburgh, Washington D.C., Rome, Paris, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg (if you’re being generous in your definition of world capitals). She has Tokyo, Warsaw, Mexico City, Stockholm, and Amsterdam on me, but I have Moscow, Berlin, Reykjavik, Bratislava, Vienna, and soon to be Prague on her. Did I miss any? (Sorry, mom, we both knew this day would come.)

Anyways, I can’t really say this trip is super spontaneous. I’m not really a spontaneous person, usually. I think about what I want to do for a while, plan out how I would make it work, assess if it is practically and financially viable, and then decide if I want to do it or not. And then once I make up my mind, I’ve already done all the planning I needed to do to make it happen. So, not really spontaneous so much as decisive.

Or maybe it’s just my own particular brand of spontaneity, one that somehow manages to be thoughtful and planned, if only in very short order.

I packed three books: a notebook, a sketchbook, and an actual book with words already in it that someone not-me wrote. This last (Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton) weighs almost as much as the rest of my luggage combined. I have my phone, an Internet connection, a hostel to sleep in, and money to feed myself. Or in other words: everything I need to survive and be happy for two days.

Part of me is amazed that I really can just walk out my door with a bag and a book, take a bus to another country, and hang out in a foreign city for a weekend. Shouldn’t there be more to it?

Maybe asking that question is what keeps us from doing more things: the assumption that it’s more complicated than it is. Which is not to deny the hard stops that really do make some things not work: money, time, prior obligations.

But sometimes, the assumptions we make about how hard a thing is blind us to what’s doable.

So if you have a little breathing room, some space to test your possibilities, to stretch for your aspirations, maybe that’s a good question to ask: what could you do with what you have, if you wanted?

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