On a fine spring day this week, I had a hankering (what a great word, hankering … does anyone use that word anymore?) to trek back to the place where I scattered my husband’s ashes after he died of cancer, after he lived much much longer than the original prognosis: Ten preposterous brimming courageous years with late stage disease.
Do you think there’s a difference between being spontaneous and being impulsive?
It appears so.
Spontaneity speaks of deciding to do something — even if it is spur-of-the-moment — but with some thought behind it. I loaded my vehicle with snow gear and wilderness essentials, let friends know where I was going, and later texted them when I made it safely back to my rig.
Impulsiveness is more about acting immediately upon an idea without thinking it through. Impulsive shopping. Base jumping off the Grand Canyon.
This week’s spontaneous trek ended up being a time of grateful remembering:
Remembering a cold deep-snow January day when I trekked up above Todd Lake with Gary’s ashes, found a sheltered area, pulled out the sturdy plastic bag and instinctively cradled it to my chest with an unexpected rush of hot tears, which felt good because I had only cried gentle tears in the final months of his life, and I needed this untidy unclenched wail.
Remembering all our outdoor adventures. All the miles that added up even though my husband was on a cancer treatment that produced exhaustion but instead of claiming the couch, we hiked all over these majestic Oregon Cascades before claiming the Colorado Rockies and Wyoming’s Tetons. Those outdoor adventures.
Remembering the full life Gary and I shared, the vision and dreams we carried that I thought would die right along with him, but instead, a repurposing as God is directing me toward a new purpose for the remaining days of my life on earth.
There were no tears shed at Todd Lake this time around, but a definite oddly sweet heart-swell that emanated from the general direction of my chest.
Settled at the edge of a frozen lake, turkey sandwich, toasted almonds, and sweet juicy orange that dribbled down my hand never tasted better.
Curious to know if there was any science around the benefits of spontaneity, I discovered a couple articles, including “The Wisdom of Spontaneity” by Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., posted at Psychology Today: “The very capacity for spontaneity hinges mostly on how much individuals are able to trust themselves. … [B]ecoming more self-confident, as well as developing more faith in one’s decision-making, and being prepared to take some risk in this wondrous adventure called life, all seem inextricably linked to happiness.”
I like that: Being prepared to take some risk in this wondrous adventure called life. That’s how I want to live my remaining days.
What if, when events happen that we wouldn’t have written into our story, we can allow our hearts to still find purpose?
And what if that new purpose, although it’s changed directions from our original goals and dreams, ends up being a good thing?
What if living fully includes some spontaneous fun and adventure along with all our wise decision-making?
We can. It most likely will. It should.
This thought from Jane Austen: “Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”
Which begs the question: When was the last time you did something spontaneous, just for the fun of it?!