Where’s the wiggle room?

Not Everything will go as you expect in your Life. This is why you need to drop expectations, and go with the flow of life – Leon Brown

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My friend wrote recently about going with the flow, about being open to possibilities and not planning too thoroughly.

The idea of free falling and not having a plan sends chills up my spine, it has my head spinning and my palms sweating. That said, when I have been open to spontaneity (usually initiated by others) I’ve been delighted with the outcome.  Learning to go with the flow is a concept I’ve not yet fully embraced in practice even though I can see the beauty, wonder and joy that can arise as a result of letting go, just a little.

My friend’s story of arriving in a foreign town with no means of transportation to the next destination, feeling abandoned a and nearly giving up hope of continuing on his planned journey reminded me of a similar experience I had while travelling.

Last year I travelled to Italy. I planned my itinerary, booked my accommodation before leaving and had a rough idea of what I wanted to see while there. There was room within the plan for opportunities that might present themselves while satisfying my need for structure and order.

For one leg of the journey I’d booked a room in a motel in Riomaggiore on the Cinque Terra. When I arrived the room hadn’t been cleaned but the proprietor allowed me to put my pack in the room to free me up for roaming. After a long, hot day hiking between villages I returned to my room to find a dirty towel in the bathroom, used sheets and pillows on the bed. When I questioned the desk clerk whether my room had been cleaned he became incensed, claiming “of course” the room had been cleaned. He quickly escalated to yelling at me. Despite acknowledging the hair on the pillows, crumpled sheets and a wet towel this man maintained the room had been cleaned. Mindful of remaining calm, despite the hostility, I asked for clean sheets so I could change the bed myself and was promptly shown the door and told to “go”.

I was almost beside myself. Where would I go? What would I do? I was alone, in a village far from home where few people spoke my language. It was late, I was tired and bewildered at the exchange that had just taken place. As I wandered down the street, heart pounding in my chest and almost in tears, I wasn’t sure how to proceed given that I’d planned my accommodation from Australia in the comfort of my living room using an online booking agent. To make matters worse most accommodation “houses” didn’t look like motels in Australia. So I wasn’t even sure where to look for somewhere to stay.

Eventually, I came upon a doorway, entered, asked the elderly gentleman, who spoke no English, if he had a room. By some chance we communicated a price, muddled through the reservation process and he took me on a long, steep and windy path to get to my room.

The room was tiny yet it was magnificent. The sheets were clean, the bathroom was clean and, best of all, I had a view of the ocean.

image I’m all for planning, I’m not naturally spontaneous but had fate not intervened and dashed my plans, had I held on rigidly to my plans and stayed miserable and uncomfortable in a dirty room I would have missed out on a rich experience and my memories of Riomaggiore would not be fond ones. If I had held onto my plans, if things had gone accordingly I would not have had the lovely interaction with this man, who offered to carry my 20 kilo pack up the steep and windy path. Had my plan played out as expected I would not have met this kind and gentle man who sensed I was upset and offered me coffee and finally escorted me to a quaint little whitewashed room with a window that framed the most gorgeous view of the Italian coast. As fate would have it, I sat and drank in the changing light of that view all night. I have a wonderful memory, a few fuzzy photographs and a pretty cool story to share of that joyful night.

Are you leaving enough room in life for spontaneity, for fate to intervene and surprise you?

Have you allowed for wiggle room?

When plans go awry are you open to the joy and opportunities that may wiggle into that tightly planned schedule you’ve designed?

I wish you luck and the joy that comes from flow,
Shannyn

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6 thoughts on “Where’s the wiggle room?

  1. I must agree. When I was in Rome (we had planned most of our trip at home) on our last day I decided at the last minute to catch the metro back to see the colosseum one last time. In the end I went geocaching and met a fellow cacher from the Netherlands.

    That wouldn’t have happened without a touch of wiggle room!

  2. I definitely agree that in life, and especially when traveling one has to be open to changes, spontaneity and be flexible otherwise one might go completely mad 🙂 This story you have shared is the perfect example. While in Italy several years ago an elderly man came by an outdoor restaurant we were eating at. He had an accordion and asked for some money. We gave him a euro and he launched into a polka. We ended up dancing beside him next to the seaside. One of our favorite travel memories. 🙂

  3. Awesome story Shannyn. I completely agree. Life can really surprise us and be truly joyful when we are open to a little spontaneity. Especially when travelling, it is always good to leave a little wiggle room by not over planning.

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