Planned Spontaneity

Among the many cool sights we saw during our road trip to Montana in July were two fascinating trees:

One tree is growing near the Bitterroot River and has two ninety-degree angles in its trunk. This tree seems to have specific ideas about what it wants to do and where it wants to go—up, out, and up again. 

The other tree is growing in Hell’s Half Acre, and its trunk is swirling every which way. This tree appears to be spontaneous—ready to go every which way.

I’m a cross between both tree styles—I enjoy planned spontaneity. Approximately seventy-percent of what I do is pre-planned. The remaining thirty-percent I block in my planner as free time and spontaneously decide how I’ll use it. 

How about you? What’s your style?


43 thoughts on “Planned Spontaneity

  1. I’m definitely a planner, Laurie.
    They say there are some strange place names in Australia, yet here you are visiting Bitterroot River and Hell’s Half Acre! Well worth the visit though – those trees and amazing!

  2. I put things that have specific times in my diary, and each evening I check the diary to see if I need to get up early for anything tomorrow. Other than that, I mostly just work one day at a time, getting done each day what seems most appropriate given my state at the time. Some days I simply do not have the capacity for dealing with thousands of variables, some days I do. Some days are mostly about research, some about writing, some about doing things physical, some about contemplation, some about systems development, and some (like today, most about driving, and a little about meetings – 7 hours driving for 3 hours of meeting).

    • Ted — Your system sounds like a good one. The commitments that have specific times go into a diary that gets checked daily. The non-time sensitive items get done according to your state at the time. It works! 🙂

  3. I am a planner when it comes to work but I’m (and try to be) a bit more spontaneous in other aspects of my life, although it also depends on what other things are going on around me. I love the pics, Laurie!

  4. (Wo)man plans, God laughs. I’m finding that truer every day. But somehow I don’t feel like your spontaneous tree. That’s a jumble of roots. My roots are straight, but they don’t go deep, for I can be transplanted easily (and have been, often). And I sway in the breeze. I sound like a weeping willow. Hmmmm. Have a good day, Laurie.

  5. Right now I feel like the guy defending the hilltop all alone. There’s not much time for anything else. I’m not alone though. There are others, on their hills, doing the same thing. May 2021 return the ability to plan or be spontaneous.

  6. I’m a planner and pretty close to your style when it comes to work and obligations (appointments, bills, commitments to others). I plan and then for B and C level priorities adjust (unless something is highly important and time bound).

    Creative work seems to be more sensitive to situational and emotional dynamics. And, my creative time (writing) has been taken over by increased work opportunities (up from about 30%+ to 85%) … and onboarding has been exhausting. The pandemic has also sapped a lot of emotional energy.

    I’ve now adapted more to both work and the pandemic with it’s related new realities. So, August will include more creative time. So, my tree would grow straight up for long periods with stalled growth or erratic twists.

    • Audrey — Oh, how I enjoyed reading your response. I’m tickled pink for your lovely increase in work opportunities (that can bring with exhaustion with them). I’m so glad that August will afford you more time to invest in your creative endeavors 🙂

  7. I’m a ‘wing it’ kinda gal. I like to know that we are going somewhere but after that, all bets are off. Who knows what’s gonna happen? That’s the fun for me. Drove my supervisor nuts with her ‘5-year plan’ nonsense. My favorite saying has always been: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I still live by that.

  8. Laurie, I thought your title was oxymoronic, but then I noticed that you block out “free” time. Good for you. Me? I put anchor points in my planner for appointments and spend parts of every day in my writing chair (usually mornings), but then I expect the unexpected because it often happens.

  9. I would love to know the story of that first tree. Some traumatic life shifts there! I am more comfortable when basic plans are in place, but some of my most amazing life experiences occurred when we spontaneously said, “Let’s go that way and see what happens.” Given the unpredictability of this crazy world, it’s good to be able to grow with the flow.

  10. 100% Hell’s Half Acre since I retired.
    Now 100 % planner as all days appear the same due to the Covid 19 lockdown and the world has turned upside down
    I am really torn and cant take any road,less traveled or not.

  11. I love your balance in everything you do, Laurie.

    Right now I am needing to structure my life as a caregiver. But you remind me of the value of spontaneity, even when the need for planning is great. Maybe the need for spontaneity is even greater then.

    One of the great losses in a pandemic is the reduction of options for spontaneous activities, especially with children.

    • Shirley — Caregiving is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever encountered. And you’re right, it leaves little (to no) room for spontaneity. My thoughts are with you and yours.

  12. Laurie, wonderful examples of abrupt changes of plans, some violence has befallen the younger tree, causing a new design to be put in place, ” Up! Always to the Sun ! Up! Spontaneity created a crisis in this case, planning saved the day. The other seems to be a conifer, perhaps a juniper, that will take lots of abuse and will take off traveling as a result. On the other hand, conifers be crazy. They’ll live in a crack in a rock. Risky Business! Life throws curves and doesn’t bother to let you know. Runs right over whoever and keeps on truckin’. That’s good enough reason right there to exercise whatever options you have in the Spontaneity Dept. Having lived to retirement I’ve found that I don’t want to have a second career, don’t want to skydive or learn a second language. I am living a day at a time, and the plan is to enjoy as much of it as I can. For my life at this point, my calendar is free except for medical appoints. We have all been given a massive change in everyday Life, spontaneous or not, it has knocked the World winding on it’s ear and the planning grows apace, we are all making plans for the immediate future, these will leave the marks and scars that formulate our growth from here on out. I want to believe we will grow in moral stature and culture, that we generate good and not the repression of others. Up! Up!

  13. WOW, that first tree looks amazingly similar to a tree in a local park that I’ve tried to write a short story about! I call it the Antelope Tree because the bend in the trunk looks amazingly like an antelope snout/face/head with branches growing upward out of it like two giant antlers.

    I have my schedule activities, meetings, obligations, etc. but every day can be different. I don’t usually do spur of the moment things, so I guess I’m mostly a planner. I don’t set aside time for spontaneity like you, so I’m probably a 90/10 planner.


    • Chris — It sounds like the Antelope Tree you speak of is a kissing cousin of the one we saw in Montana.

      Being “mostly a planner” isn’t a bad thing, especially if that’s where your head/heart feel most comfortable. I betcha a dollar to a donut that when you’re out in the wilderness camping, it’s mostly unplanned. The only planned part is to savor each and every moment. 🙂

  14. I’d like to think I’m spontaneous but I’m a planner like everyone else, to the point of lists and colour coded pens 😱 I know , don’t ask, but for now planning has been taken out of my hands …for now

    • Cherry — Ha! As I suspected… this response was in the infamous WordPress “Never Never Land.” But I found it, and that’s what matters.

      Color Coded Pens… YES! Me too. And highlighters and corresponding sticky tabs. 🙂

  15. LOve pictures and post – sorry my modem died and it took a week to get a new one and to install it (easy part) Nice to be back on line – except my partner’s computer is not connecting for some reason – this is taking much time to remedy Staying cool? Was hard not to use my phone or be able to listen to my podcasts Love listening when I am exercising

  16. I am a planner. I always do research before my trips. This doesn’t exclude spontaneity – it presents itself in the process, and it is fun.

  17. I cannot work without a plan. I want to be organized as much as possible. And if something happens beyond my control I’ll plan again.. I think planning makes me more productive and effective. Thanks.

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