I leave for Europe in a few days, and there has been something of a battle being waged inside my mind and spirit.
My very detail-oriented, Fact Finder self wants to nail down itineraries for the trip and have clarity on what the plan will be for each day.
My Quick Start self wants to rip up plans and schedules and just wing it. Discover. Happen upon. Flâneur (to stroll/explore without an agenda; to get lost on purpose). Let the little things become the big things.
Back and forth, my mind has ping ponged between the two approaches.
And then, this morning, Providence intervened with a timely reminder in the form of this image with a Byron Katie quote in my email inbox:
Ahhhhhhh, there it is.
I had been incorrectly associating having a plan with somehow positively influencing the outcome or experience of the journey (which, or course, is not possible). This is not to say that having reservations or tickets in advance for certain popular attractions, events, restaurants, exhibitions, and/or shows is not prudent; in many cases, it is very wise to do so. What I’m referring to is taking the mental stance that if I organize the pants off of this trip, I’ll be able to somehow control how much I enjoy it.
In fact, the opposite of that thought is the reality. If we enter into any experience loaded to the gills with expectations, appreciation has little room to take root and blossom. There’s no daylight for serendipity, no oxygen for fate, no water for nudges from the Universe.
And, when I consider Byron Katie’s quote, there’s no freedom in being shackled to expectations of your own creation.
The planning of my trip is not the only place this message has been trying to come to me. It has shown up in podcasts, poetry, books, and interviews over the last two weeks. Yesterday, it appeared in a reference to what Irish philosopher and poet, John O’Donohue, called “a radical letting alone of yourself in the world.”
So, while I will have a few things booked here and there, I am deciding to choose an open focus for my European journey. I am going to listen to the philosophers, poets, writers, artists, and flâneuses: I will trade expectations for appreciation, plans for chance encounters, and itineraries for magic in the moment.
I choose to fall in love with the unknown and fall toward whatever is in store for me.