I hate being unprepared, especially for big events or trips. I like having everything planned out, being ready for any possibility, and knowing exactly what to expect. Or that’s how things used to be. When I was a kid, I remember planning out family road trips – I would sit in the family room with a collection of maps spread out in front of me and calculate how far we could drive each day, the optimal places to stop to sleep, and any attractions along the route. Even once the van was rolling along the highway, I would chart our progress and determine how far we were to the next destination. I was obviously a nerdy child, but there’s something comforting about knowing where you’re going and what to expect.
Lately, I never seem fully prepared for anything – I’m always “winging it” knowing that I can usually figure things out as I go. I’m not sure what has changed. Partly, it’s an attempt to be more spontaneous, but I’ve never felt entirely comfortable with the idea. There’s always this anxiety that I’m forgetting something or missing out because I don’t know what else is possible. The other part is the knowledge that I can usually figure things out on the fly. With a cellphone and a credit card you can go anywhere and do anything with zero planning or coordination. It’s liberating, but it’s made me complacent, and I’ve been burnt a few times lately.
A few weeks ago, I drove to North Vancouver to buy my mother’s birthday present. When I got to where the store should have been, I couldn’t find it. I had looked at Google Maps before I left, but I hadn’t written down the address or phone number of the store. I didn’t even know its name. I just knew it was a First Nations art store looked somewhere on 3rd. After an hour of searching for a poorly labelled office building, I gave up and had to come back the next day with an address and phone number written down this time.
And now this morning, I really screwed up. I’m supposed to be running the half marathon, but I realized at 9:30 last night (2 1/2 hours too late to do anything), as I was getting my running gear ready that I hadn’t picked up my race package. I have no bib or timing chip. The thought never even crossed my mind. I tried everything last night to get my package. I even got up this morning with the intention of going down to the starting area at BC Place and trying find my package, even though the website says “no race day pickup under any circumstances”. Instead I woke up at 5 am to write this sob story.
Hopefully, I can learn from this experience. I fly to San Francisco tomorrow morning for JavaOne, and I haven’t printed out my flight itinerary yet (I can’t remember the last time I did), I don’t know what time I need to leave to get to the airport on time, I only have $25 in American money that I found in my bedroom, and I don’t know what JavaOne sessions I planned on attending. I really should get that ready today.
I know the feeling. Lately, I’ve just been winging it as well or letting other people take care of things. I know that I would do a much more thorough job and possibly faster but I wanted to take a break and let go of the reins for once. Winging it does make you miss out on a lot of things, but it does let you enjoy the moment more. A small tradeoff, but I think it’s worth it. =)