Part of the fun of living are those times and events in our lives that happen spontaneously; that unplanned ride on a Sunday afternoon to watch the changing autumn colors or that trip to Wal-mart to shop for an unplanned but imminent need. Although some of us are better equipped to initiate these than others, even those of us who are planners, schedulers and plotters have at times experienced the joy that comes from the unexpected pleasure of just “trying time out” to “see how it will fit.”
My wife is the spontaneous side of our relationship. As I look at palm pilots, on-screen calendars, and notebooks to guide my recreational planning, she is more inclined to come up with plans based on “wouldn’t it be nice to . . .” as opposed to “I wonder if we could . . . ?” There is just something about risking time that I’m not comfortable with. Whereas she can trade time like a Wall Street broker, I am much more inclined to invest it and take a wait and see attitude. You might say that she is a bull on time investment and I am a bear. Luckily, over time, I have come to grips with my conservative approach toward “doing” and am willing to take an occasional risk. I am sure it has always been a great frustration for her watching me negotiate with my PDA’s before venturing forth for a “good time.” Nonetheless, she has been relatively patient with me as I mellow with years and begin to grasp the concept of time spending and not time hoarding.
In reality, to really understand how best to bargain with time, it is often wise to mix these two natures together and come up with the planned event that can be initiated spontaneously. We recently took a family vacation that we had been planning for a long, long time. It had been over a year since we were able to pack up the old travel trailer, gather up dogs, children and supplies, and travel to one of our favorite destinations, Lake Superior. For us this is a six to seven hour trip taking us over familiar highways ranging from freeways to gravel roads. There is a lot of planning involved just putting a trip like this together. First, the trailer must be thoroughly cleaned. All electrical, plumbing and heating systems checked. Hitches, torsion and sway bars, and lighting harnesses have to be checked as well. Since our trailer is over thirty years old, there is always some doubt as to whether the refrigerator will work or the plumbing will leak. The truck should be serviced too. We have over 170,000 miles on our old friend and you just never know when something might break. Food supplies must be purchased and packed away and enough water to sustain four of us and three canines must be stowed. Finally, the right clothing for the season and enough to last the trip must be carefully packed away in lockers. Last but not least, maps must be checked to refresh the memory and road construction issues need to be addressed with an on-line visit to the state DMV site. And, yes, there is that mandatory trip to the ATM.
We had accomplished all of these things and my PDA’s and lists told me we were right on schedule to leave at 5:00 AM the following morning. Then, spontaneity struck. “Why don’t we leave now and drive all night and be on the shores of Lake Superior by 5:00 AM tomorrow morning?” “Yea!!!” So, we drove all night and as the morning sun began to faintly poke through the eastern skies over the lake, we pulled into our destination only to discover that nearly every site in the park was filled. We slowly pulled to a stop in a turn-around and wondered, “Now what?” Had we left at 5:00 AM would some of these people have pulled out by the time we had gotten there? The “bear” and the “bull” faced off in the front seat. “Bear: If we drove for another hour or so to the northeast there is another park on the lake. But it is over some very rough roads.” “Bull: If you’re game, so am I. What’s another hour without sleep?” So, away we went to our planned, unplanned destination right on a bearish schedule that allowed for bullish timing. It was without a doubt one of the best vacations we had every experienced and one we shall never forget.
I have found that employing the “bearish schedule--bullish timing” rule of thumb to most things in life will often give the best results. Not only does it work with recreation, it also works well when we are trying to become better communicators one with another. Planning what you want to say, when and how you want the words to be delivered ahead of time is the best way for our conversations to produce the fruit that we desire. This is wisdom. It is even wiser to allow the joy of spontaneity to flow freely through our plan. In that way, we have given love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control every chance to succeed.
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