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Richson: The end of spontaneity

BY BRIANNE RICHSON | MAY 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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I blame it all on the invention of the PalmPilot, but from where I’m sit-ting, spontaneity is essentially dead. I’m not sure if it’s a function of my growing older or if it’s just a worldly trend in general, but it seems that if you’re going to get anything done, it better be planned.

In my college years, I have spontaneously gotten a few piercings and a tattoo, much to my parents’ dismay. This past weekend, I got my ears double-pierced. (Settle down, right?) It was a decision I made amid the stress of studying for finals and the desire to do something random and fun that I hadn’t really thought about a whole lot.

So, I sat in a chair at the Coral Ridge Mall Claire’s (the epicenter of spontaneity) and let a woman I did not know plunge a sharp object through my ear, despite all the rumors I had heard throughout elementary school that if you went to Claire’s for your ear piercings, you would get an infection. And it felt strangely great (may or may not be infected).

I understand that the way college functions is thanks to its structure. You know that you have to take a certain number of credits to graduate and that a certain number of credits must be in your major of choice, and that, by the way, you have to decide on this major and essentially what you plan to do for the rest of your living days by the time you’re 21 years old.

I’m not bitter, but I think we could all benefit from a little less planning.

Maybe spontaneity is a selfish novelty that only exists in a world of eternal summer and unemployment, but I think it is also healthy and refreshing. Skipping a class in which a professor reads word-for-word from his or her PowerPoint is considered irresponsible, not spontaneous.

Recently, I made the decision that I would stay at Iowa another year in-stead of graduating on time because … surprise … the majors that I thought I was committed to and passionate about at the age of 18 are no longer something that I feasibly see myself making a career out of. Basically, my plan backfired, and now I am left to frantically try to take it all back. Why did I make this plan if I was ultimately destined to resent it?

A plan implies that, at least to a certain extent, you know what you’re doing. I don’t have a solution to the modern affinity for a plan-based life, because I don’t think it is realistic to suggest that we all relocate to a remote island where clocks are prohibited. I do think it is fair to say that a lot of us, especially in college, don’t have the slightest clue what we’re doing.

One of my favorite high-school teachers did not allow a clock in his classroom … or rather, the only functioning clock in his classroom was covered with a white piece of paper that said “The time is NOW.” While many of my peers found it to be overly dramatic and philosophical, I think the message is important.

The now is all we have, so stop planning and embrace it, even if only every once in a while, because who knows when your plan will run off the tracks.


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