Recently, I’ve been inspired by Plywood People. So much so, that I abandoned all the other summer reading texts waiting to be read, so that I can dive into their From Clouds to Concrete, which is an incredibly thoughtful combination of essays written by social innovators, and organized in a way that the book becomes an actionable guidebook to solve problems. I’m not quite finished with it (and even when I am, I might reread it because it’s that good!), but this post is largely inspired by the book, so check it out!
I can remember a time when I would go somewhere I had never been, I’d get on Mapquest (at the time owned by AOL) and plug in the directions. I’d print them out, and I’d spend some time studying them if I was traveling alone since there’s no way I could read and drive, and then I’d be off. If I took a wrong turn, I’d have to backtrack or worse, stop the car to ask for directions. Then there was Google Maps, which was much more user friendly, but still required a print-out. Eventually, one Christmas, I received a Garmin, which totally changed the way I traveled. I felt a bit safer about getting lost, because if I did, the Garmin would pipe up in the Australian accent of my choice assuring me that it was “recalculating” or that I should “make a U-turn.” For a while, I thought, what could be better than this?! Until I met the iPhone.
I love knowing where I’m going. Why wouldn’t I? Who wants to take a wrong turn? Who wants to spend longer in the car just because of a wrong turn? Maps are good. Directions are good. But not always. Having a map and a destination can be limiting. You know exactly where you’re going to end up…there’s no spontaneity or serendipity (unless of course you give directions like Billy Currington). I’m a planner. I’ve always been one. On family trips, I used to bring folders of itineraries for everyone, and one time (that I’ll never live down), I laminated itineraries in case of rain. After a while, I started to realize that all the plans I painstakingly drew up didn’t always come to fruition. But that was okay. Some of my greatest memories of these family trips were moments when I didn’t plan. The congo line around the pool in Costa Rica, the game of charades where my brother acted out Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” or the time we decided last minute to rent a boat for the day in North Georgia. None of it was planned. But all of it moved us forward as a family. We didn’t need a laminated itinerary to tell us how to have fun. We just needed to let go a little. I needed to let go a little.
When you leave space and room in your day/month/year, great things can happen.