The Discipline of Spontaneity

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What a delightful piece of advice!

For those of you who happen to know me, you’ll find out something about me quite quickly. I am not a naturally spontaneous person. And by that I mean when I see spontaneity approaching I oh-so-subtely and casually slowly turn around and hide until it passes by me. As one of my friends told me, she knows when I will say no to something if I say “potentially…”. And here I was thinking that was a good, neutral response. After all, I haven’t said no yet, I could still change my mind! Or at least that’s what I tell myself and her until an hour later when I don’t go.

Yep, I’m predictable, and I’m fine with that. It is not important to me to keep people guessing at who I am or what I’ll say or do. But being predictable doesn’t exclude being spontaneous. One definition of spontaneous is, “suddenly, without deliberation.” And I like to deliberate, I like to plan, I like to know what is going to happen, which right there is the problem. The opposite of being spontaneous is not being organized or planning. The opposite of true spontaneity is fear. I’m not talking about the kind of spontaneity where me and a housemate will decide to ditch studying and eat banana pancakes all day while watching random shows and speaking completely in weird noises. That might have happened on occasion.

The spontaneity I’m talking about is one that can go by a different name, adventure. And while adventure requires some planning, it is impossible to know what will happen along the way, who we’ll encounter, and what challenges we’ll come across. Oh, surprise surprise, I think I just described all of life. Thinking that I can or should have the ability to control the outcomes to situations or know them in advance and rejecting other avenues that are offered is simple fear and pride.

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While planning and organization exercise virtues such as self-discipline and temperance, spontaneity encourages courage, boldness, and openness, which are important virtues as well. To use a term from a class I recently took (yes, I’m sorry, I know it’s summer…), Planning and spontaneity are not in a binary, in other words, they are not polar opposites of each other. I can be disciplined and organized but also be equally as spontaneous. Is it easy for me? Nope. Not at all. But it’s a learning process, just as becoming organized is a learning process for those who are more spontaneous by nature. But in many ways, we are all learners and we will be learning all our life. 

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The Freedom in Tranquility

"Not all stars belong to the sky"

“Not all stars belong to the sky”

I feel like many times I will find myself dwindling away countless minutes on Facebook and Pinterest when I wake up, in between classes, after appointments, and before I go to bed at night. I’ve realized lately how I’ve taken that to be my “relaxing time” and I keep myself busy from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed with other things. However, I decided that I wouldn’t consider that to be “relaxing” because I really don’t actively choose to take those few minutes to relax – I’m really doing it mindlessly.

I think it’s important to intentionally take time to relax in my day, or knowing me, I won’t take it. I decided to start doing yoga in the afternoons after classes as a way to take a break in the middle of my day. It’s peaceful, I feel relaxed, and I take this time to not think about all the things I have to do that day. Well, I’m going to be honest, that worked out well for a day, and I haven’t had time to do it since. Hypocrite? Most definitely. But it’s teaching me something. It’s making me realize that I tend to fill up my days with things that are urgent, but not important. As an example of this: Sending an e-mail checking up on a job is urgent because it is something I need to do to get ready for summer, but not important. Calling an old friend to catch up because I want to maintain a strong relationship with her is important, but not urgent. Sometimes I’ll find myself sending e-mails and researching things on the computer while I distractedly talk on the phone with someone from home. I’ve noticed that these urgent tasks are taking my priority away from my important tasks. If I don’t even have time have a good conversation with someone I’m walking past, then I’m too focused on my “task list” for the day. If that happens, it means I’ve become a slave to my urgent tasks and I’ve relinquished my freedom. I’ve forgotten my primary vocation: to love. I forget it when I can’t wait 5 minutes until I’m off the phone to wash the dishes. I forget it when I can’t focus on a story someone is telling me because I’m checking my e-mail.

Taking the time to relax is important. It is as important as doing the tasks on my to-do list everyday. And taking time out of the day to focus fully on important tasks rather than urgent tasks is necessary if I want to maintain healthy relationships, with my family, friends, and Christ.

What I’ve decided is, because I am that crazy woman who is a morning person, to take a little of my time to relax in the mornings. Why? This sums it up pretty well:

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