Unplanned living opens up endless possibilities

  • By Sarri Gilman / Herald Columnist
  • Monday, May 21, 2007 9:00pm
  • Life

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.

Talk to us

More in Life

Artist Michelle Downes prepares to work on a few canvases in her garage workspace on Thursday, July 6, 2023, at her family’s home in Stanwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Stanwood artist Michelle Downes creates layered dreamscapes in resin

Resin is one part chemistry and one part artistry. Downes combines the two to make art that captures the imagination.

The 2023 Infiniti QX80 has standard rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive available on all models. (Infiniti)
2023 Infiniti QX80 is powerful and posh

A mighty V8 engine does the work while a luxurious interior provides the pleasure.

Ash was rescued along with Dexter, just before his euthanasia date. (Luisa Loi / Whidbey News-Times)
Whidbey Island woman rescues 300 German shepherds

“Can I save them all? No,” Renee Carr, of Oak Harbor said. “But I’m gonna try my hardest.”

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Most Read