Western civilization thrives on planning: lunch dates, appointments, work schedules, we plan our Fridays and our birthdays and even our funerals. Our public school systems encourage this at a young age by providing us with agendas, and, subsequently, planners, calendars, and watches will always be in demand because an abundance of us are undeniably Type-A.
This time-obsessed way of life constantly keeps us in motion; it allows us to operate in a controlled, conscious order. Nine-to-five routines, and routines in general, ensure that we’re maximizing efficiency, which is rarely a bad thing— except when we struggle to break free of the constraints tied to such routines.
Not every experience in life needs to be stringently scheduled down to the last detail. Sometimes, the freedom of spontaneity is the best path to new adventures.
Recently, my childhood best friend reached out to me in the middle of the day with a text that read, "Got a last minute hotel room down the shore for the night! Come down!" I stared at my phone hesitantly. I had an hour to pack essentials like contact solution, a change of clothes, and a phone charger, and I had no obligations or plans for the night or the next day.
Despite this, my initial reaction was to quickly text back, "Thanks anyway, but I have to babysit/help my mom clean the entire house/watch my dog!" It's not that a night down the shore, just an hour away, didn't sound appealing to me, or that I didn't want to hang out with one of my closest friends, who I always have a good time with. It was because I hadn't planned for it, and because I hadn't woken up that day knowing that I was going to do it, that I was so reluctant to throw my things in a bag and make the drive.
And I'm not the only one so hesitant to embrace last minute plans, either. Rather, most of my peers are just like me— they require a schedule in front of them at all times. It's only half our fault that we're this way, as we reflect the iPhone-dependent era that we've been brought up in. Most of us are anxiety-ridden, culture-starved social media junkies that rarely live as diversely as our Instagram feeds would suggest. For a generation that wholeheartedly embodied "YOLO" for years after Drake rapped, “You only live once, that’s the motto,” rarely do we put such a carefree mentality to use.
And why? Spontaneity is a beautiful thing. It teaches us to be on our feet and to live unpredictably, because the world is, at all times, excitingly and overwhelmingly ours.
I ended up going to the shore that night, walking on the beach at midnight and swimming in the hotel's pool until the staff kicked us out. Those were experiences, memories, made in a last-minute trip on a random Thursday. And I'm going to remember those things much more than I would ever remember rewatching season nine of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix, my initial plans for the night.
I'm going to remember the bitter cold ocean water on our feet, numbing our toes, and how holding hands with my best friend as we jumped into the pool felt just like it did when we were eight years old. Those were times that I almost passed up on simply because they weren't planned. I have come to realize that there is a small bit of magic in the unplanned, in impulsivity, in not knowing where you're going, and I urge you to seek out the same bits of magic.
Think about it: When was the last time you got up and went somewhere, anywhere, just for the sake of going? For a road trip, or a day trip, or just to get out of the house? More importantly, when was the last time that you went anywhere unfamiliar without Google maps?
Throw out the itinerary and embrace all of the adventures life throws at you-and know that "adventures" can be defined however you want them to be. By definition, they don't have to be last-minute drives to the beach, they can be going to 7/11 in the middle of the night for Slurpees, or booking plane tickets on a whim. That carefree mentality we all had as children can be so mentally freeing, and often times, our next impromptu journey starts with a little imagination.
So make last minute plans; drive with no destination in mind. Utilize the endless chances and the people that are surrounding you. Because you're not going to remember the nights that you meticulously and considerately planned, you're more likely to remember the nights you didn't— at all. And when you get short texts urging you into impromptu good times, know that it is always (always!) better to make the drive.