If there is one thing adult life has too little of, it is definitely spontaneity.
Frankly, that’s hardly surprising — the unspoken image of success has long been defined by leisure-free days full of plans, meetings and hard work. Time is money, after all, so there is no place for slack.
To be fair, the result sure is an economically productive culture. However, nothing comes for free. Such endless pursuit of productivity has gradually eaten up much of our lives. The very same planning procedures that rule over our work lives have gradually spilled over into the way we approach everything else.
Most painful for me is how friendships and all relationships in general have increasingly become subsumed by a frustrating wave of precise scheduling. It is becoming less and less possible to say to a friend “hey, let’s go out” and have your social wish met. Just like a premature “I love you”, such an appeal feels strange because it has divorced itself from the normal timing for such things. Indeed, with friends and acquaintances, these days you have to plan early. You just cannot be spontaneous. Moreover, you have to have a reason why.
Personally speaking, inside of me the reason has always been clear. “I want to spend time with you”. But saying that rarely works. Spontaneously starting to miss somebody is simply not an acceptable reason. So, all of a sudden, I really want to see that new movie. Or I am dying to go ice-skating, but, oh well, I would feel too lonely on my own. In other words, I make up a reason and go with it. Otherwise, I risk staying alone.
Now, I hate the above dynamic so much. Why should there be a reason for a meeting in the first place? At the workplace, I get it. You don’t want to waste time because money is at stake. Moreover, having reasons for this and that provides accountability and allows for a rational post-game analysis. Business is rational and it’s all about efficiency.
Yet, few of us are too sad if our relationships aren’t efficient enough. We don’t lose sleep over suboptimal interactions. What’s more, sometimes all we want from relationships is to turn our brains off, to stop thinking and start feeling instead. Continue reading In Praise of Spontaneity