It is a very good idea for us to have some control over our own lives, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad idea to just let things happen.
That point became clear while I was taking a break from a busy sorting and packing exercise at my mother’s home in the United States last week.
I went there to help her move into a more manageable house. My brother and four of my five sisters were there as well so it wasn’t all work but we had a lot to do and we had a deadline.
My old home is on the New Jersey coast so most mornings I walked to the beach to catch the sunrise over the Atlantic… something I never bothered to do when I lived there.
I was too busy for that back then, but during this trip it was always a highlight of the day.
The first two mornings there were red and orange skies over the horizon that were almost as beautiful as the sunrises I get at my house in Francistown. On the third, however, the clouds were thicker and lower so the run up to sunrise was quite subdued.
The air was warm and the sea was calm so I just sat on the beach taking in the peace. Then, about 100 metres off shore, a massive creature shot five metres straight up so that half its body was out of the water.
It was a whale.
It was magnificent but when everything went calm again for the next few minutes I started wondering if I had imagined seeing it.
I soon discovered I hadn’t and that the whale was not alone, and for the next half hour the migrating humpbacks rolled and feed as the sun rose into the broken clouds.
It was a treat and I felt extremely lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.
All I had done was get out of bed early, walk down to the beach and pay attention but sometimes that’s the best way to be.
When I first came to Africa I paid a fair bit of money to safari companies so their drivers could track down the big five.
Then I bought a 4×4 so I could chase after them in my own vehicle. Eventually, though, I discovered that I saw more and had a better time sitting at water holes and game hides waiting for animals and birds come my way.
This more relaxed approach has also paid dividends when I have applied it to more active pursuits such as travelling.
When my girlfriend and I went to Croatia recently we only booked accommodation for the first night of our two week stay.
Most of the other travellers had pre-booked their entire trips and paid up front so they had to keep moving and stick to their plans while we were free to stay longer in places we liked and do a runner from places we didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying plans are bad. I’m just saying we shouldn’t over plan our lives or to let someone else’s plans stop us from slowing down once in a while so we can just let things happen.