We’ve had a good run of October weekends. First there was camping. Then there was New York City. This past weekend, we had dinner with friends on Friday, then went to the Jim Thorpe, PA area to go biking on the Lehigh Gorge trail. On Sunday, my husband took the kids to a Halloween festival at an area botanical garden while I went on a long run with a friend.
Coordinating weekend day trips — like Jim Thorpe — or overnight trips (camping, NYC) requires some planning. I’m sometimes asked, given how into planning I seem to be, how this fits in with the idea of spontaneity. Isn’t it fun sometimes to do things that aren’t on the agenda?
My answer is…yes. But I also think that planning and spontaneity aren’t the opposite concepts they often seem to be.
For starters, there is a huge gap between planning every minute and planning nothing. It’s quite possible to plan a few things on a weekend and still have wide open swaths of space. On the camping weekend, for instance, I was home by 11 a.m. on Sunday, leaving much of the day free for whatever. On Sunday this past weekend, after the rest of my family got home we used that time to bake banana bread, play board games, and so forth. On Friday, our dinner reservation was at 8:45 p.m., so I had time between 5:15 and 8:15 for some general end-of-week winding down.
Second, there is plenty of space for spontaneity within plans. All sorts of unplanned things happened on the trip to the Lehigh Gorge. We took a detour around Jim Thorpe (traffic was backed up a mile from the town’s stoplight!) and wound up on a gorgeous one-land road over the mountain. The fall foliage was fantastic. At the gorge trail itself, we elected to go north rather than our usual south. We hadn’t decided before hand how far we’d go, and we stopped at a few spots along the river to see things. On the way home, we stopped in Jim Thorpe and got pizza at a little restaurant we saw. All these little spontaneous adventures depended on our having made the decision to load our bikes, the Burley, the tag-along bike, etc., into two cars and drive up there. That took coordination, but there was lots of space within the day.
I think weekends go particularly well when I get the balance between plans and spontaneity right — but then again, so does life in general. I’m writing this Monday afternoon. I planned my morning rigidly to crank out a 2500-word draft of an article. But having finished it and an interview scheduled for 12:30, I now have the afternoon to pick from a list of projects. I felt like writing about my weekend now, so I did.
What’s your happy balance between plans and spontaneity?