It is a truth universally acknowledged that Mondays are one of the worst days of the weeks. (Tuesday is actually the worst, but Monday is definitely second.) Occasionally, even a Monday can become a very good day.
I woke up this morning in London. After catching an early morning train from Paddington Station, I spent the day exploring Oxford…sort of. There are lots of things to do in Oxford—museums, exhibits, colleges, tours, etc. I did relatively few of them. Instead the majority of my day was spent catching up with an old friend (who did act as a tour guide), drinking tea (lots of tea), wandering around a bookstore (since I bought two books yesterday I only wandered today), reading a previously unread C.S. Lewis book (A Pilgrim’s Regress), and walking slowly and with no great sense of purpose or plan around Oxford.
Yes, I did tour the Bodleian Library. Yes, I did tear up when looking at a first edition of Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary. Yes, I proudly admitted my love of Harry Potter to the guide. Yes, I did eat at the Eagle and Child (hangout of the Inklings).
I could have done a lot more. I could have planned every hour and booked tickets in advance. I could have hit all the highlights of Oxford. Sometimes planning is a good and a necessary thing to think through before heading out your door on an adventure. However, sometimes planning is overrated.
My plans for this week went through several different iterations. It’s Reading Week at Trinity, so I have the full week off. Originally a friend and I were supposed to go to Greece. After a change of plans, the same friend and I decided to spend the week traveling in the UK. Unfortunately, last week my friend broke her leg while walking to work.**
I realized that I could approach this unexpected development in two ways.
I decided to go with option two. G.K. Chesterton once said, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
However, I decided that I wasn’t going to do much planning. I knew where I was going to spend the night and I knew there were certain things/places I wanted to see, but I wasn’t going to plan every minute. I was going to be open to the possibility of an unexpected adventure. I wanted the freedom to sit in a coffee shop or dally in the gardens in an estate. If two roads diverged, I wanted the option to take the one less-traveled (and not only because I’m going to be driving a stick-shift on the wrong-side of the road).
This Monday has definitely been one for the memory books. It’s nice to sometimes stop figuring out what you’re going to do next. To focus on just being wherever you are and breathing deeply. This is hard for me in the normal, daily rhythms of my life.
At home, I often feel like the White Rabbit–late for a very important date. On this side of the Atlantic, my schedule is a lot more open. After class and studying for class, I still have more time. For the first month or so, this really, really bothered me. As time passed, I started to appreciate the different pace of my life abroad.
Maybe this is one the reasons I felt called to study abroad. Only by removing myself from the normalcy of my jam-packed daily life am I able to realize that trying to control the minutia of my days isn’t the most productive, helpful, or positive use of my time and mental energy. Instead of trying to control my world, maybe I need a little more rest and lot more trust in God.
I realize that this season of my life can’t last forever, but that doesn’t mean the lessons I learn can’t have an impact on future seasons.
So for now, I’m going to enjoy the moment and have my mostly unplanned, somewhat spontaneous holiday in the UK unfold as it will. Only time will tell if this is a good way to plan a vacation. So far, so good.
** My friend is back home with her parents for a month and working remotely for the time being. She is not fine because her leg is broken, but she is doing quite well all things considered. We’re making plans for a future adventure sometime next year. 🙂