One of my sons, ever the planner, quickly created his own checklist and dutifully went about the house gathering all the gear for himself, and for his older brother. He'd check it off the list, and assemble it in the closet. The hike is more than ten days away; he just loves to plan. My older son is more spontaneous and checklists... well, they don't come naturally to him. Watching their completely different approaches to life events is humorous, and it also gives me pause to reflect.
So much of life is just about showing up. If we don't make the effort to be there, life carries on without us. Whether we are a planner, or an improviser, we still need to make the effort to show up.
I was recently talking with a client about putting a training program together. We are not in the same part of the country, so coordinating was all done by emails and phone calls. What kept happening was emails would go un-replied to and phone calls un-returned... not necessarily any one person's fault, it was more a result of the number of people involved who were all very busy. After lots of back and forth, I offered that I would "show up" at their office one morning. This involved a lengthy flight and a couple of days away. However, my "showing up" was reason enough to get all the right people together at the right time, to make business happen.
On the flight home, I reflected on what we would have missed if we had continued to haphazardly exchange emails and voicemails for several more weeks. The deal might have fallen through and the important training project, which benefits everyone involved, would have most likely been delayed or suspended.
In the end, it wasn't the preparation, or the spontaneity that was important. Indeed, I needed to do both! What really mattered, was making the effort to be there, to show up. Learning to recognize those moments and seize upon them is a result of paying attention, and often requires putting in that little bit of extra effort. That effort often seems to be the thing that we think that maybe we really don't want or need to do. But it's often that very thing that makes the magic happen.
How often does life pass us by while we wait for what's next? Show up, do it today. Be delighted in the results... and then do it all over again.