On occasion, I do this thing that not too many people do.
It’s as exotic as traveling for an extended period of time, and filled with as much mystery and surprise.
The “thing” I do is live without a plan. At first it may sound like a vacation. But a vacation is a far more planned event. A vacation has a start and end time, some specific activities and destination points.
My living without a plan really has none of the above. I go planless for a couple of reasons. I have noticed that the most important and valuable things in my life came to me without a plan.
When I moved to Washington state 21 years ago, I was really just visiting. I was on a three-day vacation. I took the ferry for lunch on Whidbey Island and my lunch lasted for 21 years.
When I became pregnant, surprise surprise, I had twins. A whole additional child. You expect twins when you use fertility assistance or have twins in your family. I had none of the above.
As my girls now get ready to graduate from high school and move on to college, I am left with a full heart and more than my fair share of joy.
My beloved husband was also someone that came along unexpectedly. Love always likes to sneak up on us. People say love comes along when you are not looking.
I think many things come along when we are not looking. We can be too busy with a fully booked life and miss the possibilities. Sometimes I catch myself clinging too tightly to a routine.
This is why I go planless from time to time.
People ask, how long will you go planless? Well, if I knew the answer to that, then it ruins it for me. I go planless until I stumble upon the next thing that grabs my heart.
Cocoon House was birthed by listening to my heart. Really, I wasn’t looking to run a nonprofit organization and it wasn’t on my life itinerary.
I think it’s important to dump our itineraries sometimes and rearrange our lives.
Some people like to rearrange their furniture, or move to a new town, or go on an exotic vacation. My thing is to go planless from time to time and see where it leads me.
Even though I don’t have a destination, I have a feeling of knowing it when I find it. It becomes very clear that I have found something worth my time and effort, and I can commit.
This is the time of year when the graduates in our midst are clutching diplomas, nervous about what is next, I want to just shout out that it is OK to not know.
Not knowing is a place unto itself.
Aside from something big like graduation, we don’t get too many reminders in life to search, to not know, to be planless.
Every couple of years, I open that door and step into the unknown, really and truly not knowing what I will find. It is not scary, but even for a veteran planless traveler like myself, it can be unsettling to pull on that door handle. There are a couple of weeks of anxiety from not clinging to what is familiar, and then – zoom – the journey begins and I investigate possibilities that I simply didn’t notice before.
Sarri Gilman is a freelance writer living on Whidbey Island. Her column on living with meaning and purpose runs every other Tuesday in The Herald. She is a therapist, a wife and a mother, and has founded two nonprofit organizations to serve homeless children. You can e-mail her at features@ heraldnet.com.