I'm a planner, a scheduler, a listmaker. I like to know what I'm going to be doing and when. I rarely like to just wing it.
makes it all the more interesting that when I write fiction, I don't
really outline, but write my first draft by rambling, wandering impulse.
However, on my recent trip to Hawaii, we didn't have
every day planned out. We knew a few things that we wanted to do, and we
had certain flights to make, but other than that we were free to make
up an itinerary as we went along.
And we kept having to change
direction. It was too hot to do a hike we'd planned; some trails were
closed; one trailhead parking lot was too full; a restaurant wanted us
to wait too long for a table; we didn't know how we'd react to the
altitude of Haleakala; we didn't know what we would find at the end of a
certain road; we weren't sure we could find the trail we were trying to
find; we didn't know if the tide would be high or low when we got to a
We kept having to adjust on the fly, which is
ordinarily something I hate, but this time it was all right. This time I
even enjoyed it. I had coconut pie on impulse, at the moment when I saw
one in a display case that looked good, and it was just what I wanted.
We sought out a green sand beach on impulse. We had a beautiful desert
walk that wasn't even on our radar the day before. We found little
beaches and gardens hidden away from crowds, giving us the sense that
these places might have materialized just for us.
Once when we
were wandering the streets of Honolulu in search of a good place to have
brunch (and despairing a little that there seemed to be so many more
places to shop than to eat), I decided to sit down on a bench or a
planter or something because I was tired. I was tired at the moment, so I
sat at the moment. And then I looked up, and right in front of me was a
whole rack of free magazines listing places to eat in Honolulu. We
grabbed one, looked up a place, and found a great restaurant where we
ended up eating twice.
The reason I'm a planner is that I often
find the searching and flailing that goes with spontaneity to be
annoying, a waste of time, an energy suck. But this whole trip was a
case of accepting and living with what presented itself whenever our
preconceived ideas didn't work out. It was a case of enjoying what was
in front of us at the moment. We changed our flight from Oahu to Maui at
the last minute because we got to the airport early and thought hey,
why not try to hop on the earlier flight as stand-bys? And we caught a
beautiful sunset because of it. We showed up at the Hilo airport and
there was live music playing in the lobby. We ran into a park volunteer
who told us how to find a certain place we'd been looking for. We
wandered into a park ranger talk and ended up hearing a nose-flute solo.
what comes was such a persistent theme on this trip that I began to
suspect it might be a Life Lesson for me. Goodness knows I have been
needing such a lesson when it comes to writing, because none of my
writing plans in the past year have panned out. I have started asking
myself: What happens if I work with what's in front of me, instead of
what I wish I had, or what I thought I should have by now?