On planning, and not

Summertime!

It always starts with a road trip, doesn’t it?

I love getting back out into the country. Long farm roads, hot afternoons, and dirt that sticks to everything take me right back to a slow, steady, gorgeous state of mind. Everything feels vast and open and beautiful. Nothing is so important that it can’t wait. (In the city, everything is too important to wait.)

This weekend’s escape coincided with the Perseid meteor shower, and those meteors showered and showered and showered.  A couple of months back, I got a new tattoo (bear with me, I promise I’m going somewhere with this). This one is small and simple, the words “stay gold” in my own handwriting set inside a little gold halo. I was inspired by the novel The Outsiders, which was in turn inspired by the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. I needed a little reminder to keep my sense of wonder no matter what, to snap up every opportunity to experience beauty, and to appreciate it; to stay gold. So I was delighted to find out that shooting stars still make me laugh from pure joy. And that the joy extended to laying outside on a hard gravel road in the warm night air, drowsing and telling myself I’d stay out for “just one more” until I woke up covered in mosquito bites.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to fully relax and give myself over to the flow of a few days. By “a while”, I mean my whole life; I am a planner. I like to KNOW. I will take weeks of anticipation over a big surprise every time. But since my divorce (can I say that even if it’s not final yet? I think so. In my mind and my heart it’s all done and clear, the rest is just waiting for the state to catch up), I’ve been trying to let go a little more, and to not force an opinion or a plan just for the sake of having one. It doesn’t come easy to me, but it’s led to some amazing experiences.

It seems counter-intuitive, but a major part of my plan right now is to have no plan and let life take me where it will. Here, for example:

Or to taste infused vinegars before breakfast. (Pineapple balsamic vinegar, by the way, will make an excellent cocktail when I mix it with coconut milk, soda, and rum. Mark my words.) Or to sunburn my back through the water of a swimming pool, except for a little crescent under my neck where my hat jutted out. Or listening to my new favorite album with a good friend, two times in a row because it’s just that good.

I should probably say “and” instead of “or”, because none of these are hypothetical examples, they’re all things that I wouldn’t have done if I’d planned the way I am used to, because I would have had to rush back to the city to make it to get something done. I’d have missed out on all that, and I wouldn’t have had the evening free to linger at a favorite restaurant, drinking pink wine, soaking up the last light before sunset, and sharing dessert on the house.

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