The need for spontaneity

Most of us have no problem acting on impulse when we’re in our teens. And I suppose somehow, we think that being spontaneous is linked to immaturity. I guess it can be.

But what happens as we grow older? Perhaps society tells us we must mature, stop acting on impulse and be an adult about things. That we should start planning – whether for the future, college, having a family and we should do away with our spontaneous actions and be responsible.

So we plan. We plan to go to college because that’s what society tells us we should do. We plan our weddings and at what age we’ll have our children. Then we plan for their college and save for a house and so on.

We suddenly find ourselves in an empty nest syndrome, our children are gone (hopefully), we retire from our careers and somewhere along the way, we’ve lost that little nudge inside that used to say, “Let’s do something completely out of the norm.”

I’ve noticed that as my parents have aged they have gotten so into routine that I know when to call them, what times they eat, and what days they do this or that. I have tried over the past several years to get them to do something fun – to just wake up one day and say, “We have nothing going on – let’s take a drive to the beach.” But for some weird reason, if they don’t plan it they just won’t do it. My dad has even said to me in response to such things, “Yeah, we can’t just pick up and go.” To which I responded, “WHY NOT. What could you possibly have going on that you can’t put off till later?”

For the most part, I just accepted that planning is part of growing up. And acting impulsively is immature behavior. But, that doesn’t stop me.

I love the fact that my husband is spontaneous. I’ve always loved that about him. It is just one of many things we have in common. And in our case, opposites didn’t attract. Having a lot of things in common is so much easier. I’ve often told my friends and I quote, “Nick is amazing! He’s just like me.” (Which of course sounded like I thought I was amazing). And as always, I had to explain that what I meant to say, is we’re so much alike that we’re not constantly arguing about our differences or trying to change the other one.

Maybe we’ve been misled all this time. Perhaps a little spontaneity is good for the soul and good for the marriage. To get away from the humdrum of doing the same thing, every day – at the same time over and over and over again, and get out of our boring routine.

Last week, I tried calling my parents in Alabama to check on them. I called several days in a row and could get no answer. That could be cause for panic, when your parents are older, you know their routine, and can’t reach them and you’re a zillion miles away.

I received a call from them on Saturday and as I was scolding them for not answering the phone and causing me grief my mom proceeded to tell me this:

Your Father and I woke up on Monday morning and just decided to go to Savannah to visit his sisters. We thought, well we don’t have anything going on now that I’m retired, and we packed a bag, grabbed the dog and were on our way within an hour.”

I was blown away. I could hear the excitement in her voice of how thrilling the whole thing was. Almost as if she had been waiting for this her whole life. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

I challenge you to get out of your normal routine. Take the kids or grand kids or just your significant other, pack a bag, grab the dog and go make a memory.

Photo Credit: Geekologie

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
This entry was posted in aging, boomers, taking care of yourself and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The need for spontaneity

  1. This is great advice, Susan. I find routine makes me depressed, because it feels as though every day is just like every other day. But there’s definitely a time for spontaneity and, as illustrated by your November 2nd post, a time to slow down and think things through. The trick, I guess, is knowing which is which.

    I loved the story about your predictable parents taking off for Savannah.


    • Susan Avello says:

      Thanks Charles, I appreciate your comments. Yes, there’s definitely a time for both. Yeah, I loved hearing the sound in my mother’s voice of excitement on just “packing a bag and heading out on the open road”……made me smile. Hope you’re doing well.


  2. So – I’m 60+, but I am not one day older than 45 :-). With five grandchildren and one great-grandchild that helps. I do my best to make sure that not only the adult me, but also the playful child within is seen, heard, and cherished. It pays off for me, and is a benefit for others. As long as my spontaneity is alive and well, so am I.


  3. Susan Avello says:

    We sure do forget. My problem? Staying in the groove and not always running off to be spontaneous 🙂 Thanks JoAnn.


  4. JoAnn Jordan says:

    Cheers for spontaneity! We forget how it can feed the soul, increase joy, and add fun to life. Thanks for the reminder of the importance it plays in our lives.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s