No plans, no problem

Madison Geering, Editor-in-Chief

I had it all planned out. I would only begin my day when the warmth of morning sunlight gently lifted the spell of sleep. I would glide through the day by listening to music, calling up a few friends to catch up and staring smittenly out at the ocean from my backyard. I would end the day with a funny feel-good movie and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, then drift peacefully to sleep.

After a stressful week at school, I would use the rare free Saturday to reset.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans: they tend to unravel.

That Friday, my stepfather surprised my mom, and my sister and me, by announcing that for her birthday, we were going to be taking a one day road trip to Nevada to see the concert of my mom’s favorite country singer. 

Suffice it to say, I was less than thrilled.

Not only was this a sudden and unexpected shift in plans, but it was also less than 24 hours’ notice. My alarm would wake me up before sunrise to drive five hours into the middle of nowhere to listen to music I had never heard before.

The root of my frustration, though, was that I wasn’t allowed the time to prepare myself. If only  I had been able to plan for this, I thought; it would be a calculated, yet enjoyable, adventure.

But do adventures have to be calculated to be enjoyable?

I certainly thought so. Routine and order has always soothed me. The ability to place your life onto the organized pages of a daily planner comforts me, and gives me some semblance of control.

When you think about it, our entire lives as high schoolers are almost formulaic. From rigid bell schedules to assignment due dates to weekly club meetings, everything has its place.

And we mindlessly fall into that same routine everyday. We walk the same route from class to class and hang out at the same places on our breaks. We follow our schedules so frequently and faithfully that it’s hard to notice the monotony.

Sure, the pattern is comfortable, but that comfort can be a cage.

According to psychologist Amy Green, M. A. in her article “Why We Need to Be Spontaneous,”  embracing spontaneity can make us happier. Green notes the value of preparation and goal-setting, but reminds that there is an “important place for living in the moment” and enjoying life without overthinking the future.

Maybe this could mean eating lunch in a different place, or maybe it’s about welcoming the next unexpected adventure that comes along, no matter how much it changes your plans.

That surprise trip to Nevada was certainly an unexpected adventure to my sister and I. We silently sulked on the entire drive there on that Saturday, mourning the plans that we could no longer fulfill. However, sometime between our arrival and the concert that night, something shifted in me.

We stopped by the Colorado River before the concert and walked down to the water. I sat at the edge of the dock with my sister, legs dangling just above the water. We gazed out at the desert sunset; the sky was smeared with soft pinks and elegant purples, its reflection shimmered in the dark water of the river.

In that moment, I realized how fortunate I was to be able to sit there and enjoy the sunset. If I hadn’t gone on this impromptu trip, I would have never seen it.

I decided that I would savor every second of that trip even if it wasn’t a part of my plans.

Later that night, at the concert, I clumsily sang along to each song, guessing the next words, almost always inaccurately. Between each verse, I would be caught in laughter, swaying with the crowd of dedicated fans dressed in the appropriate attire of cowboy hats, bell-bottom jeans and boots.

Even though I never would have expected myself to have a good time at a country concert, I found myself having the most fun I have had in awhile.

However, no matter how much I encouragingly nudged my sister, she wouldn’t budge from her stiff stance. There was no erasing her perpetual frown.

I guess her and I just looked at the trip differently. She saw it as an unwelcome detour, and I ended up seeing it as an unlikely opportunity. 

Consequently, I embraced the spontaneity and created memories while she felt a begrudging frustration with the way our time was spent that Saturday.

Her attitude left me wondering: even if we are not spending our time the way we wanted or expected to, why would we waste such a precious commodity?

After all, we lose time constantly. 

Each second slips past us endlessly, it’s up to us not to let them pass without seizing their potential and embracing even the moments we don’t expect.