It might be the worst or best advice ever. Wander til you find your way home.
We spend our lives racing from here to there. School to college. College to work. Work to marriage. Marriage to house. House to kids. Kids to retirement. Even if you haven’t been running that race, you know that’s the plan society set up for you.
We’re all so fixated on a plan. The Friday night plan. The summer vacation plan. The early retirement plan. No one has the loosey-goosey, don’t-worry-be-happy plan. But without a plan, there’s room for spontaneity, serendipity, flukes… All the more reason to take your plan–and shove it.
I know it’s not easy. I know it seems a little crazy. But what’s the worst that could happen? You let yourself go for a little while–find out where the universe takes you. Have faith, something will click. If it doesn’t there’s always a backup plan to save you. After all, you’re not going to lose your life experience, ever. So you can at least hit the reset button. Best of all, even if you do come back to where you started, you’ll have a much more colorful view of the world you could live in for the next time you venture out.
I’ve had several life plans go awry. And that’s why I stand behind my words. I’ve learned from awesome experiences that rose out of accidental detours. One of my worst moments with a silver lining? On a planned working trip to Buenos Aires, I was nearly robbed on day three. I managed to wriggle my way out and felt good about escaping a scam. Two days later, on a Monday afternoon, in one of the most chic neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, a man attacked me in broad daylight. As you can imagine, it was traumatizing, as were the confusing and painfully long hours at the police station and the fear of going back to my apartment where I still didn’t feel safe. I didn’t know what to do with the five weeks I had yet to spend in the country. Going home felt just as bad as staying. This was not in the plan.
The only way to get over my fear was to start moving. I subletted my sublet. I booked a flight to Patagonia. I got a hotel with wifi where I could continue my work. And fortunately, I found incredible healing in nature. I hiked the most beautiful trail I’d ever seen in my life. I hiked in the middle of a pristine glacier. I wandered to the literal end of the world, Ushuaia, the southernmost city on any continent before Antarctica. My plan failed. And how I scrambled to refill that time ended up bringing me more adventure and beauty that I would’ve otherwise have experienced. I was still shaken and skittish throughout my journey, but I felt stronger for staying and salvaging my experience of Argentina. I can’t say I have yearning to go back, but I can say I am grateful that I wandered my way to a better place.
Nearly getting mugged followed by actually getting beaten up probably aren’t the most motivating examples. But that was–knock on wood–one of my worst experiences that righted itself. There have been lots of little moments of coulda, woulda, shoulda that when thrown to the wind ended up in pleasant surprise. Maybe it’s a matter of outlook. But isn’t perception everything?
If you believe in the power of possibility, why not give kismet a shot? If it’s not trust in the universe, maybe it’s about trust in yourself. You might like it. You might scare yourself. You might like scaring yourself. Take your imagination, your dreams and those rainy day savings for a ride. You could find yourself someplace amazing. Or just find yourself, period.