Planning for "No Plan Times"


by msabaye

I went away for a week. I had to do some work (four meetings), but it wasn't a work trip. I didn't pack my laptop (I am not sure why), and when I arrived at my destination, I didn't make any effort to find out how I can access internet or a computer to log on to something/somewhere.

My work and personal meetings were planned ahead of time. I had quite a bit of unplanned time on my hands. At first, I wasn't sure how that would go: Would I die of boredom? Would I go into depression because I had nothing to do?... I mean we are talking about hours and hours of no planning, no work, no appointment, no email, ...

At the risk of stating the obvious, I didn't die of boredom or of anything else for that matter. I had the best time of my life. I haven't felt so refreshed, so relaxed, so rejuvenated in a very long time. What happened? Nothing really.

Everyday, I woke up and wondered what to do. Sometimes I turned on the TV and watched something, whatever. Sometimes I went to the exercise room to stretch and sit quietly. Sometimes I rushed to the coffee shop in the hotel, grabbed a coffee, and read the morning paper. And then I tried to remember the last time I read the morning paper in the morning: I am not sure whether my memory failed me or that time just didn't exist.

Then I went out and walked aimlessly about for hours (which explains pins and needles in my heels) interrupted by a cup of coffee or juice or a sandwich. One day, I had the whole morning and afternoon free. At first, I was overwhelmed by the number of things I wanted to do and tried to plan them all. Then I dropped all planning and just drove around, walked about, and sat here and there for a rest.

I am not exaggerating when I say that this was the best time of my life. Honestly. And yet, in a way, I didn't do anything. What did I see that I can tell you about? Well, nothing worthy of a photo on facebook, no monuments, no fancy places, ... All I remember is the pulps in a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice... if you are interested in that sort of thing.

Now that I am back, I keep thinking what was so good about this trip. Why can I not get over it?  

I think it is being present in all the things I did. I experienced everything with full presence. I didn't do anything that I hadn't done before, but it was the way these simple things were done. Of course, I stretch at home either on my own or in a class. Either way, I keep thinking when it ends or look for a clock to see the time or wonder why the instructor does not move to the next pose or ... And in the class, this is all happening when the instructor keeps saying: close your mind, focus, ... (granted, I am focused but on when I can move on to the next thing, be it the next pose, or my next task, or on what excuse I can find to run out of class to get to the next thing, ...).

This trip made me review and reconsider quite a lot in my life: I take on many projects and engage in many activities and try to do my best in all. But (at least) one thing I neglect to do, is to be fully present in the moment. This particular passing moment that will never repeat itself. I am in too much of a hurry to jump to the next one. As if this moment is created only as a means of moving to the next one which, in turn, is a just a transition to the next...

So, what is the next moment? Just another moment that I may be half-experiencing if I continue living and working in anticipation of the next one. I think you see where I am going with this.

I cannot/will not try to change who I am. I look at the world with eyes of wonder, I find so many fascinating things, and I throw myself at them as far as I can. And I love that. But I guess I can think of economizing a bit on the number of things I do to find leisure time, I mean unplanned time for doing nothing, for wandering aimlessly, for getting bored. Now that I seem to have mastered 'the art of multitasking', I am thinking that perhaps it is not much of an art and more of a bad habit.  

I hope that idle moments keep flying to me, but if they don't, I have decided  to lure them into my overly planned/busy life. I want to make sure I have time for unplanned times and for doing nothing: to discover what the moment has to offer and what I have to offer to a particular moment. Wish me luck!


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