When my husband and I lived in Santa Ynez not too long ago, one of the things I loved most about life there was that I could tell what time of year it was based on what was going on in the environment around us. The pumpkin patches were bursting with orange in October, the Icelandic ponies were having their babies in June; months made themselves known by the red peppers in one field, the sunflowers in another, the smell of onions somewhere else. We grew mountains of basil in our backyard and heard the owls at night. Nature was our calendar.
Life in Santa Monica is not quite so serene, but I was reminded this week that I can still feel those cycles in places like the farmer's market. Yesterday was one of those days I have longed for for what feels like weeks, a day where there was no particular timeline on anything. I felt the freedom to go with whatever happened to be in front of me and because of this I received some wonderful little gifts.
After catching up on the phone with a few friends and spending a wee bit too much time with my new favorite distraction - instant chat on Facebook - I headed outside to my bicycle for a day of errands on two wheels. I had to start by dusting off my poor neglected bike, and when I went to pump air in the tires I discovered a flat. Thinking myself quite the ingenious one, I grabbed some duct tape and covered up where the leak was (not on the tire itself, but where air is pumped into the tire). It seemed to hold after filling it with air, but within ten blocks it was flat again. So the journey went like this:
* I walked my bike more than six blocks to the bike shop and got the tire fixed.
* Backtracked almost all the way home to the dry cleaners to drop off the load I had been carrying around in my bike basket.
* Headed back towards the bike shop again - since that is where the farmer's market is - parked my bike, and loaded up on all the goodness that is now in season. Apples, grapes, carrots and a big container of honey dates - yum!
* Ran into my husband unexpectedly, so off to lunch we went.
* Ate lunch, finished shopping, did a couple of other quick errands before heading home.
* Dropped off the first round of loot, then rode to Whole Foods Market, where I ran into this lovely little bluebird. Just so happens we had run into each other at the same store in the exact same spot a while back, so we both immediately burst out laughing when we saw each other and proceeded to gab for a while. Just like neighbors do when they happen to see one another in the local grocery, in small towns like Los Angeles.
* Finally made it back home about four hours after I first set out, happy to have felt the sun on my face, peaceful that the day was more about chance than about specific goals.
These are not earth shattering experiences, but they are an important part of what I am wanting more of in my life. Those unexpected twists that create an experience you hadn't imagined for yourself, experiences that could only be possible by letting go of all pre-conceived notions about what your day is supposed to look like in order to be considered productive or meaningful or valid.
There will always be things to do for work, for my book, for whatever obligations I have committed myself to, but sometimes it is best to just let those things wait. To brush them aside and let a flat tire determine your day, to allow them to collect dust in order to blab the day away in the dairy aisle.