Looking forward to a return to more spontaneity.

Gosh, I miss spontaneity. I miss road trips to wander off grid with little pre-prep. I miss unrestricted play. I suspect I will never take those things for granted again.

Until this year many of us struggled to make time in our busy schedules to set up a weekend play date with friends, or pencil in a vacation on a company calendar. We made do with the quick picnic or bike outing. We hurriedly gathered for a campfire and guitar evening or a luncheon date with friends because we understood the balance that we needed between our work and our play. It’s a hard thing to do under normal circumstances.

Now, in this year of extra complicated challenges, it feels astronomical to plan and even harder to pull off the simplest event. We’re constrained by shifting business environments, by demands to our overtaxed financial status, and by a strange fuzziness of what is considered time off work. We mix going to the office and working from home and go through daily gyrations to figure out how much of the time working from home can be verified. It all feels like the ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears/witnesses…’ conversation. It all feels hard.

Dining with friends has become more than the spontaneity of picking up the phone and saying, “what are you doing tonight?” Now it becomes, “where should we meet… when can we meet… what has your behavior been for the last 10 to 14 days… what’s the temperature outside… is your sitter in quarantine?” The novelty of strict discipline has worn off and the Christmas holiday is coming. Even though we know we need to think about any time spent with others, it comes at the same time that we are tired and wanting to go rogue and gamble. Consideration of others over self is certainly being put to the test now.

I yearn for the luxury of coming home from work and saying “gosh let’s just go out …who feels like cooking”. For the spontaneity of “let’s just go camping this weekend.” “Let’s go see our friends.” “Let’s get in the Van and drive for 2 weeks knowing that we can get gas, can be at a hotel if we want to, can eat at a greasy spoon off some interstate if we want to, can go into a little shop and walk around for distraction or buy some sundry that we forgot. I miss the spontaneity of sitting beside a lake or river and finding the mental and emotional stimulation that resets our priorities.

Any envy of retired friends that tell me that they’ve been walking along the lake shore, biking through the woods, or strolling on a beach is short lived because I know they are only slightly less impacted than I am since they don’t go to a workplace. Self motivation, self entertainment and even the determination to stay positive is a genuine struggle for us all. It is hard not to throw up my hands and say I’m done, but in truth I am way too stubborn to get this far around the track, see the finish line out ahead of me, and quit!

I appreciate the humor people share. I appreciate the uplifting memes they send. I appreciate the photography of everything from kittens to cabins to stare at. We all get it. We all mask our emotions along with the lower half of our faces to everyone except family, and coworkers in zoom. It is not easy to be spontaneous with Zoom and not all friends and family have the capability, inclination or hardware. Some of my snow bird friends have flown South, and others are putting up their Christmas decorations now. We cannot just go visit and the holiday cheer feels a bit less festive in Brady bunch configurations.

I sat down at the easel yesterday and struggled to find a photo that I wanted to paint. This ‘tired to the core’ feeling is a hard one to stare down, but I felt calmer when I started to look through my phone photos. I do look forward to the day when I can go out and breathe fresh air and see the abundant loveliness in nature but scrolling these I recalled moments that Ray and I just pulled the van over beside a lovely meandering river and felt the peace that this brought. Many of these photos had nothing dramatic about them such as a colorful sunset, rock formation, waterfall or unique creature, but were just what they were, a snapshot of a peaceful moment in afternoon sun.

Perhaps I am numbed by too much drama in my every day. Perhaps I have reduced the importance of how a quiet, spontaneous moment allows you to you look and see subtle beauty. I don’t need a big plan or a long drive, all I need is the impromptu glance out my kitchen window at the birdfeeder. I’ve got to remember not to amplify what I cannot have right now, and focus instead on what I can have. This challenging time will pass and we can go back to our adventures. That spontaneity of a road trip will be worth celebrating, but in the meantime we can endure.

This is a 16″ by 20″ oil on canvas called ‘Roadside Break.”