The first thing most people will tell you about planning is that you need to have a plan in order to reach goals. That’s pretty much untrue. Plans are limiting; they only consider what you know at any given moment and can never really truly incorporate possibilities outside of your control. It’s perhaps more important to understand that many goals have been reached without planning at all, and that no goal has ever been reach by a straight line. In fact, some awesome goals have even been reached while in pursuit of some OTHER plan, completely unrelated to the serendipitous end they had found. Take Christopher Columbus for instance: dude goes looking for India and finds the Americas—I’d say that worked out pretty good for everybody.
There are a few factors at work here:
THE FUN FACTOR
Nearly every aspect of the development of a human being is placed on a guided plane of measurements and comparisons since the day you’re born. Education plans, college plans, retirement plans, dental plans, lesson plans, and weekend plans are all part of some premeditated ideas—and that’s fine. Yet, I can personally testify that over 90% of the most fun things I’ve ever done have been completely spur of the moment and absent from some checklist. What’s more is that, some of the most influential and important events which have shaped my life, a life that I love, have been perpetuated by random impulses of effort and spontaneous events. The richest of my life experiences like moving to Japan, joining a rock band, traveling to Ireland, learning to record and mix music, writing, trying to learn Japanese, teaching myself how to play the guitar, falling in love—all of these events have involved off-the-cuff tactics and virtually zero planning.
THE HUMAN FACTOR
Let me run you through this little exercise:
Put a pen on the desk near your computer and watch it.
What do you notice? What’s happening?
That’s right — ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Now flick the pen with your finger. Whoa! Holy sh*t, it moved!
Why is that? Because YOU are human, and humans have the ability to make efforts that can manipulate the universe, and in turn, affect their own lives. The greatest miracle in this entire universe is to be human. Planets, stars, atomic particles, and ballpoint pens? They are completely bound to the natural forces of physics and have no intrinsic ability to make efforts of their own; of its own limitlessness, the human imagination is not bound by any such natural laws. Essentially speaking, the human mind IS the freedom we so often seek.
Keeping that in mind, if you ever find yourself bored, you’re just not thinking creatively enough.
What if you could be human 24hrs a day, instead of acting like a computer for 8hrs or a zombie born from fast food and glitzy merchandise advertising?
Want to know why prehistoric human life was awesome? Because at any given moment you didn’t know if a huge bear or tiger was going to chase you down and rip your damn head off, that’s why. That’s spontaneity. There was no time for depression or boredom because you were hungry every 2 hours and weren’t sure where your next friggin’ meal was going to come from. You might shoot and deer today and miss it tomorrow. You might survive the sunshine one morning and be killed by the subsequent overnight blizzard.
Want to know why going to work sucks? Because it’s all laid out for you and there’s no danger to your life, there’s no random pack of wolves chasing you down a ravine in a thunderstorm. Sure the names and the deadlines may change, but the purpose is the same: make someone else more money than you’re earning. I encourage you to talk to someone who has a more dynamic job for a living, one that requires travel and constant changes; the chances are they aren’t AS depressed about their employment. The other thing about work is that there endless lists of mindless goals: sales goals, accuracy goals, performance goals etc. True spontaneity has no predetermined goal. There’s nothing to appease but the feeling of just doing it. Doing it is the purpose. Most of our work goals involve doing work so we can get the hell out of the office and on with the weekend. What if you could surprise yourself by having no goal, no expectations, and just doing something for the hell of it because you turned off the damn internet for a whole day and went for a walk, because you were inspired by something you read, because you had a sudden burst of confidence, a flash of compassion, a bolt of curiosity? What if you got up right now and left your chair and walked out of your apartment and did something pure? What if it was something that satisfied a curiosity, a question whose end is not measured in money, or status, or some future perk, but rather done for the pure enjoyment of doing it?
THE UNIVERSE FACTOR
The universe interacts with humans through the combination of two basic elements: effort, the actions that we take; and permitting conditions, the properties and timely climate of the universe which accepts the efforts of human beings.
People often talk to me about worst-case scenarios and best-case scenarios. I tell them to stop being so naive; neither plan ever comes true to its purity. What more often ensues is a combination of the two, therefore yielding elements of your guided efforts and of what conditions permitted them to bear fruit. If fact, both worst-case and best-case scenarios in their purest form—if they happen at all—usually happen when people least expect it, e.g. winning the lottery, natural disasters, etc.
The purpose of this realization is to put the nature and results of human spontaneity into the proper context. All the planning and expectations in the world is not going to guarantee a satisfying life experience because outcomes are not determine by either human efforts or permitting conditions alone; outcomes are determined by both. By that rationale, a more satisfying existence involves one that doesn’t perceive the value of life as a calculated strategy, but rather a flood of events that one rides. I think surfing would be the best analogy, as the ocean can serve as an example of the universe: something that possess basic form, but is generally unpredictable. One cannot necessarily plan the ride because the waves themselves are relatively uncertain. Most of the time a surfer has to make a split-second decision about whether to pump hard for the ride or not. And, even if they do successfully catch a wave, that doesn’t ensure a smooth ride; a great ride is created through the cooperative elements of the surfer’s effort and of the permitting conditions of the wild ocean.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Look, we all know that going through the motions will always be an unavoidable part of civilized life. But the modern age has undoubtably begun to clandestinely strip our humanity from us. We use the internet and think that it’s active and spontaneous because it’s non-linear, but then we’re on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter nearly 80% of the time. That’s not spontaneity, that’s classical conditioning.
Society and the persons who control it are always going to hand down expectations for you, orders from the helm that request your time and money. They love that game because they make the rules and win often. And in those moments when the spotlight drops on you, you freeze up trying to remember your lines and play the part, if only just to get the show over with. But I say unto to you, bask in the light and forget the script, push fear aside and sing from your gut. I think in those bravest of moments, having forgotten all the steps, when you dance until the music stops, maybe that’s when the real “you” shows up. Maybe that’s the only time we can realize that the show doesn’t stop just because we’re not perfect, or didn’t perform to expectation. Maybe that’s when we throw expectations to the wind and dance like we’ve never danced before.
Let me ask you one last question:
Do you think I planned to write this essay?
NOT A F*CKIN’ CHANCE
Inspiration struck on my way into the shower. That’s why I’m sitting here, bare-assed and naked in a cold hardwood chair, typing this ridiculous essay. Life doesn’t hesitate; we hesitate. And then we die.