Our need for control stems from our desire for perfection. When we experience something – a vacation, a night out, a restaurant – we want it to be fulfilling. But in our aim for fulfillment, we end up getting in our own way. And we spend far too much time dwelling on how something might turn out.
I have the tendency to write out elaborate plans for just about any trip, event, or gathering. It doesn’t stop at a to-do list. When it’s a trip, it’s pouring over restaurant reviews in the hopes of finding a cute atmosphere, quirky menu, and off-the-charts reviews. I once created a spiral bound notebook on restaurants in Maui for us to choose from for our week-long stay. But we had kickass fish tacos TWICE on that trip, so I’m likely to always defend that choice. Or perhaps it’s obsessively reading hiking trail reviews to ensure you see the best views and pass the right amount of people and feel just the right amount of burn and exhaustion. On our honeymoon, I left the hiking plans up to Aric and we ended up hiking 11 miles in 105 degree heat in the desert, never passing a soul. I convinced myself at about mile 7 that we were going to die out there. Somehow we didn’t and it’s become one of our best memories to date.
But instead of focusing on how something might turn out, we should spend more time enjoying how it’s unfolding before our eyes. Instead of camping out in the future, eyes clamped tightly together and fingers crossed, hoping for the experience we anticipated and counted on, we should just see what comes about. Instead of producing notebooks of food choices, we should highlight a few and work them into our plans. Instead of viewing endless images of scenic points during a hike, jot down the details, prepare responsibly, and let the views be a surprise.
When you prepare for an experience, do you control so much that you miss what’s right in front of you? Do you miss the company you’re in because you’re focused on where you’re going next or what you’re late for?
I am working on allowing for magic to unfold in my experiences, which means less planning and more exploring. Less reviews and more gambles. And sometimes, just sometimes, your fish tacos are going to suck and you’re going to survive anyway and it won’t ruin your time… unless you let it.