Sunday, January 27, 2013

Intentions and Taking Advantage of Whims

As the summer crisped into fall last year, Joe and I decided to take advantage of one of the last tolerable weekends and camp out at the beach. Making regular sojourns to the ocean is in my blood, and all week I had been feeling the pull toward the beach. So with very little planning and some hand-written directions in a notebook, we took off toward the coast.

When I was younger, I was a hypervigilant planner. I remember once saying, "I can be spontaneous, I just need to plan the time to be spontaneous!" In my head, if it wasn't planned, it had every opportunity to go poorly. In reality, if it wasn't planned, I couldn't control the outcome, which terrified me.

When we got to the beach, we set up camp just in time to watch the sunset. We went our separate, silent ways, and I spent most of the descent staring at the vastness, the openness, the engulfing waves like mouths. I don't remember a single thought I had. I think I was just lost in the massiveness.

I learned my lesson several times over that trying to control people and situations didn't make me happy, but rather made me quite miserable. So since uttering the quote above, I have practiced a different tack—recognize my intention, acknowledge it, release it, do what I can, and let come what may. This practice varies from situation to situation, and has led to brilliant adventures, some ending horridly, some packed with lessons, some changing the course of my life.

That night, we built a fire and watched the moon rise. Joe suffered frozen fingers as he strummed the guitar and we sang songs. I saw my first shooting star. When we woke the next morning, we again went out to the ocean to just stare, gape, meditate. As we drove back to the city, we reflected on how random and lovely the trip had been.

This trip to the beach is a simple example of the practice of letting go. I had the intention, I put out the idea, and took advantage of the whim. Along the way, I didn't worry about the details. And it proved to be the best possible process, and allowed for the most bliss.


  1. I can totally relate to the desire to want to control situations, people, outcomes. But I too, like you, have learned it's not possible and it feels so much better to just let things come and go as they may. Well, I try to do that anyway!

    Your beach trip sounded wonderful.


  2. Oh the beach! We haven't been since summer. I don't know how, I don't know why...I'm so glad you got to go. Two years ago we hiked up the Hoh a little ways and it was magical. We saw mad elk, a BEAR! It was warm and lovely. This year, we were all hell bent on going to our community's Solstice Celebration camp out when I suddenly was like, wait why don't we just go for hike on the beach just the two of us!??! It was the best decision ever. We had such fun.