The act of being spontaneous holds a different meaning for everyone. For some, it means ordering the feature instead of their favourite from the restaurant menu. For others, it means taking a different way home, touching base with an old friend, or watching Vampire Diaries instead of True Blood. To some, spontaneity is a foreign concept altogether, lost somewhere between textbook pages and school papers, jobs, social media, and other commitments or rituals we are blindly bound to.
I never personally understood spontaneity until I abandoned the comforts of the Island and headed to Germany for a six-month gap year; it took another continent, language, culture, and time zone to attach a personal meaning to the concept as I had the freedom to act with it. It was a difficult and overwhelming task at first, departing my small town rituals for a set of new ones in big-city Munich, which held no sentimental value for me.
One evening, about two weeks into my trip, I was impatient with having no job, friends, or grasp of the language. I hadn’t left the district of my hostel, making only the obligatory trips to the grocery store or a dining venue and back. It was on this evening that I realized I had slipped into the very same funk I was trying to escape from in my native country. So, in desperation to salvage my experience, I slipped into my boots, picked up a map, and headed for the nearest bus stop. I had no idea what was happening at the time; all I knew was that I needed to get out and refresh. I got off at the station where I could transfer to the underground subway, and boarded the next one that arrived. After waiting about six stops, I got off at Karlsplatz Stachus, an exciting district I had read about in my Lonely Planet guide to Munich.
I walked down the streets, searching for a pub vacant enough to accommodate me at a table, yet loud enough to drown out my thoughts. About three-and-a-half blocks later, I read a sign that said ‘Joe & Ben Canadian-Restaurant-Bar-Marché’ and knew immediately I had to try it, despite the lack of sitting room as it was filled with people. When I entered I was shocked and pleased to hear English. Ten minutes in, with a hard maple syrup lemonade in hand, I was feeling welcome and comfortable speaking with two girls my age, one from California and the other from Italy. Soon, their friends joined and welcomed me as graciously as the first two had. Hours later, the owner, Jochen (from Ontario) began circulating and socializing with his guests. Jochen asked dutifully where I was from and what I was doing in Munich, and was pleasantly surprised to hear my response and offered me a job on the spot.
It seemed that all of my issues were solved overnight when I plunged out of my comfort zone and into an intuitive state of spontaneity. The people I met that night became my closest friends during my six-month stay, and to this day we remain in close contact.
Not everyone has to find their intuitive, spontaneous self by travelling overseas; it took that experience for me to come to a better understanding of what it means to take a risk and reap the rewards. Finding personal spontaneity could start with inviting the neighbours over for dinner, creating a vegetable patch, or signing up for a run. The decision could be as simple as making plans with a relative nearby, or visiting your old school. Delve into your imagination to create a mind map of images of goals you wish to set for yourself. The reward in trusting an instinct could be as great as a new friend or job opportunity, or simply a feeling of accomplishment. It is impossible to know the extent of your ability if you do not explore the outer limits of your regimen.