Sunday, October 4, 2009

Spontaneous felicity


There is nothing in life more exciting than impulsive action.

It's that phone call you get on a dull Saturday afternoon from a good friend directing you to "grab a toothbrush and a clean shirt, we're headed to Tahoe to raise a little hell!"

It's deciding to call a few people and tell them to come on over right now because you're going to grill some meat and make some margaritas.

It's deciding to go east instead of north.

When our boys were still young Carolann and I took them on a cruise.
That's a pretty exciting vacation for an eight and twelve year-old. But when we returned to port in Los Angeles after a week of great food and fun on the Mexican Riviera the letdown was palpable in all of us. We were happy, just not ready to end the vacation. Not quite. So, rather than drive straight home to Sacramento as planned we decided to take the boys to Disneyland as long as we were in Southern California anyway.

Off we went!

That evening in our motel room, as we tucked our happy, tired boys into bed, that letdown feeling started to return. I picked up a map and looked at it for a couple of minutes.

"You know," I told my wife, "the Grand Canyon is only four hundred miles from here." And that's where we spent the next night.

Carolann and I have done this at least three times. We're great vacationers. We're just not good at ending them.

Once we were sitting in the Honolulu airport waiting to board our return flight. When the announcement came that the flight would be delayed we took it as an omen, blew off the reservation, phoned work and told them I'd need another couple of days and then we left the airport for another day and evening in paradise.

Another time it was a driving vacation that took us to Idaho, then north to the fabulous Canadian Rockies and across to Vancouver. On schedule to return home in time to go back to work in two days, we suddenly headed west instead of south because driving the Oregon and California coastline is so much nicer than I-5. And it added a couple of impulse days to our vacation.

The luxury in spontaneity is in breaking schedules and commitments. It is reminding yourself that you are free to do as you please whenever you wish.

It has been too long. I'm ready to do something impulsive again.

The problem is, you can't plan to be spontaneous.

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