Rooting for spontaneity

by | Apr 14, 2021 | Spontaneity

In the pre-pandemic days we enjoyed city breaks, my partner planned our excursions to the last detail while my inclination was always to cast aside compass and maps and, like a greedy truffle hog, follow my snout. Or rather, follow the ‘desire paths’ of whichever city we’d made our home for a short break. A desire path is the ‘shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination.’ In other words, a short cut.

Desire paths are democratic since people literally vote for them with their feet. They can also be transgressive, surviving the best efforts of city planners to circumvent them. But for me, the ‘short cut’ definition lacks the real romance of the desire path. It is the route I am compelled to take for all sorts of reasons that are not all entirely conscious – a hope of something delightful, the promise of something wonderful, just around the corner. I’m rarely disappointed. Desire paths have invariably led to beautiful views and hidden treasures.

In pursuit of them, I am being spontaneous, that all-too rare ability to act without premeditation. I’m not following an impulse, but my decisions are rooted in a hyper-alertness to my surroundings, my senses fully engaged, trust in my instincts, optimised. I’m in a state of complete presence in the moment, attributes that can be nurtured if only we valued them.

Sadly, fear of failure, litigation or blame cultures in our lives and our workplaces can drive us to plan to the nth degree, crushing spontaneity and its soulmate, creativity, in the process. And that’s a pity, because, sometimes, the process of planning can estrange us from our desirable outcome. Being spontaneous can help us see the wood for the trees, a solution right under our nose.

For me, spontaneity is a manifestation of a person who is fully alive, what Carl Rogers called a ‘fully-functioning’ person:

“He is able to live in his feelings and reactions of the moment. He is not bound by the structure of his past learnings, but these are a present resource for him insofar as they relate to the experience of the moment. He lives freely, subjectively, in an existential confrontation of this moment in life.”

Happy rooting.


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