Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Plans

Two close friends arrived in Paris yesterday. A text message from one of them at two o'clock in the morning attested to that fact. In our final visits together before their departure, amid the talk of travel-size toiletries and Paris restos that I might recommend for their lunches, the topic came up of my joining them. There was a lament on their part that they had not arranged a way for me to be in their travelling party.

Another friend is planning by year’s end to be on a boat down (or up?) the Amazon River. I have photos of him on the Great Wall of China from a few years back and others that he took in India in 2007. He is serious in extending me an invitation to join him in South America if my work schedule in the next six or seven months permits it.

Recently, a day does not go by without a friendly query on someone’s part about my “summer plans.” Someone just stops by my office door and figures a question about travel is one of the easiest entrees into conversation.

It has taken me a little while getting comfortable admitting that there is no plan.

A July weekend in a nearby Benedictine abbey, an August trip to a colleague’s wedding in Pennsylvania, a couple of days with a New York friend – these somehow don’t weigh in as the kind of vacation that people are asking about.

There is no plan.

I’ll confess to a combination of apprehension and relief at that prospect.

I am unlearning certain patterns these days, and it may take time to discover the kinds of pleasure there are in ventures that I didn’t need or get to attempt a year ago. In the months ahead, I might be caught attending a concert alone or occasionally eating a meal at the bar of a popular restaurant.

That happens, I can lecture myself, when there is no plan.

No plan, no expectations, no well-traveled pattern, no clearly defined goal tugging me safely onward.

I need for there to be no plan now. I need to be able to say that I don’t know what my life will look like a year from now. Some things can only happen – important things, I suspect – if I admit that I don’t know what I will be writing about next June.

And what, after all, is so bad about that?

Photo of Paris river cruise from ninemsn


Ellie said...


I'm thinking of it as 'elbow room for the spirit'...

John said...

I like that idea -- giving yourself that extra space to get things done that you might have gotten around to earlier if you had thought the space was available to you.