I recently got back from a great vacation in Northern California. What made this trip really different is that we did very little planning. With the crazy summer we had and my general brain overload in August, there just wasn’t any time or energy to do any extensive research or planning. Sure, we had read some tour books, we knew we wanted to do a lot of wine touring, and couldn’t wait to visit old friends (and meet some new friends too). Other than having a framework of lodging in place (and even THAT was only fully completed the day before we left) and reservations for our anniversary dinner, we hadn’t a clue.
For many people this might sound like every vacation experience you take. I know a number of folks who are quite content to hit the road without reservations or a plan; simply an adventurous spirit and a map. I have never been one of them. I used to plan vacations like a major undertaking. I would plan our days to within an inch of our lives, stumbling back late at night to collapse from exhaustion and start it all over again the next morning. After all, I don’t want to miss anything and there is so much to see!! Fortunately for us in recent years we’ve relaxed all that. What I learned was that in trying to do “everything” I was actually experiencing “nothing” because I was so out of the present moment (not to mention deliriously exhausted) that I truly didn’t enjoy the journey. Vacation was like a mountain to be conquered, not an experience to be savored.
What made this particular trip even more different than the last few years of more relaxed attitudes was the utter and complete lack of a plan or a clue. Neither of us had been to this area before (except for a brief afternoon in Napa once 13 years ago). That didn’t stop us from totally winging it every step of the way. We essentially started (or ended) each day with the question “what’s next?” and went from there. We changed our whims of what we wanted to do as we went (sometimes in mid-drive) and just allowed our moods and the weather to move us.
My verdict from this whole experiment? What fun! Sure there were a few moments where I felt we were clueless and aimlessly wandering doing something that didn’t feel all that fun, but for the most part it was totally liberating! No expectations, no agendas, and few commitments (we did have those dinner reservations and a spa treatment). What I learned was that by letting go and simply allowing the experience to unfold we not only enjoyed it more but ended up with more perfect synchronicities.
For instance, we checked in at one hotel just as she received a cancellation for their large suite. Guess who got that magnificent free upgrade? Dumb luck? Coincidence? Who REALLY knows, but I believe it was because we were just flowing with the moment and open to receiving whatever good stuff came our way. And, as a result lots of good stuff did. Wineries bent the rules and gave us a few extra tastings in addition to their “tasting menu”. We got to taste some premium wines that normally don’t get poured. We got the hilltop, ocean view hot tub all to ourselves not once but three times. We got to enjoy it in the cool, crisp night with a sky full of stars, mid-afternoon before spa treatments, and in the early morning just before sunrise. What could be more perfect than being with your sweetie in those conditions? We even got the perfect window seat overlooking an amazing sunset for our anniversary dinner. What’s the likelihood of that? I could go on and on with the good fortune and waxing poetic about this fabulous time, but there is a real lesson in all this that I want to point out to you.
The real lesson is that when you can let go and just wing it a little good things happen.
Loosening your grip on the wheel of life is the best way to be able to enjoy the bob and weave of the curves along the way as well as navigate the bumps. If you’ve ever grabbed the wheel tight and tensed in a panic when you needed to avoid a possible hazard you know just how difficult it is to make the move you need to when you’re rigid and unyielding (someone invented anti-lock brakes for a reason, right?).
So, take a few moments and consider:
- What is the one area of your life right now that you need to loosen your grip on?
- How could adopting the attitude of “winging it” even just a little benefit you right now?