When I talk of spontaneity to those hard-set in the ways of Western culture, the door is often slammed in my face. Of course this is no real door, but the door to their minds, because in our culture spontaneity is synonymous with idleness and a life without goals, and many people have already closed their minds to other possibilities.
To let things be what they are, to let come what may come, and to ride the wind conjures visions of bohemians, hippies, gypsies, and bums.
Not someone with goals, with a plan, with motivation, passion and drive to get from point A to point B.
I find myself spending a lot of time refuting this concept of spontaneity. I refute the claim because it's not true. Or, more specifically, it does not have to be true. In fact, spontaneity may lead to even more goals, plans, motivations, passions, and drives—for the right person.
What do I mean by the right person? Some of us go about success in the wrong way. We try to force it. We work very hard, living on our to-do lists, and expecting to get as much out of the system as we put in. When things don't go our way, we end up frustrated and dejected because this way of operation is cold and offers very little satisfaction—it merely turns real life into an assembly line procedure. We continue on with our to-do list, but with less motivation, more than likely losing the spark we began with.
The surest way to avoid this inevitable let-down inherent to our system of “productivity > enjoyment” is to venture from the regular path, to trust that we will fly when we do.
I feel as though I live a very spontaneous life. I still have goals, but I am not tied down to them. I am free to leave my feet when the spirit takes me, to go headlong into the unknown. If I were simply living life by my to-do list I would not venture. I would stick to the list.
Living a spontaneous life means living in a way that the list, if you have one (and I almost always do), is not the end-all, be-all of reality. It's accepting our human need for creativity and exploration. Yet spontaneity is not completely discarding the old forms.
When we have passion for a thing, it is very easy to spend time with it. I have passion for exercise. I do not need to keep a detailed to-do list when it comes to running. I just run. I do so often when I have passion. Many times in my life I have found that when I try to control how I run, the distance, the time, and the harder I control these things, the less joy I get out of running—and therefore the less I run. Despite detailed goals, I am less motivated. When I just run, I run farther and faster than I would if I approached running as a chore. I still carry a stop-watch with me, and I still try to improve from one run to the next, but I don't grow moody if I don't. I don't make myself. It happens of itself.
Spontaneity increases passion because it does away with our culture's have-to's. With more passion, we do not have to guard our steps. We can trust ourselves to do what we love, because we love doing it, and there are few things we'd rather do otherwise.
The argument against this tends to be “What if I find I don't have the passion, even if I live spontaneously?” My response: “Then why do it?”
We need money to survive in this world. We must eat, clothe, and house ourselves. Yet how we make that money is entirely up to what we enjoy doing. If you don't want to work in a cubicle, don't. If you don't want to be ABC, but would rather do XYZ, do what you must to get to that point. But do so spontaneously. Don't try to out-think life. Don't try to trick the system. Don't do a thing for any other reason than that you find joy in doing it.
When there is joy—joy borne of spontaneity—there is a way, a living, a life.