Do you love it when day goes the way you expected?
Do you extra love it when day exceeds expectations?
Do you agree that life is easy to enjoy when it complies with the desires of your heart?
I left for a summer road trip on Tuesday.
I have been curious about a new experience of road trip as my observation of others has disrupted my original version of road trip. To me, I call a road trip anything that includes driving to a destination rather than flying. I have always preferred to drive as opposed to fly. My drive days have consisted of long hours. The longest nonstop I ever did was Denver to San Diego. I began noticing others who reference road trip would break their drives into segments and focus on alternative routes, as well as include desired scenery and/or novel attractions.
Several years back, I looked at my Subaru Outback and realized I could easily sleep in the back of it. If I could do this, I could go on more adventures because it would eliminate the cost of hotels.
I slept in the Outback once and it was miserable. I didn’t plan or prepare. The experience set a standard to which I could only improve.
Last summer after quarantine, I left in my car to visit my brother’s family outside of Chicago, and then my parents in S Florida. Along the way, I fell in love with Asheville, North Carolina and reaffirmed my fascination with Savannah, Georgia. When I left Florida to return to Denver, Memphis left me curious, and Arkansas made me drool as my paddleboard was in the car and it felt wrong to rubberneck my way through without stopping to explore. I made it to another crush: Lawrence. (Kansas). And then home.
After the trip, I thought about how I could have shared my content along the way, handing out workbooks or business cards. At some point, this idea turned to stickers. My crush cities seemed to be college towns. Lawrence had the coolest independent bookstores and coffeeshops. I narrowed my thinking to retrace my trip and put stickers up in independent coffeeshops in college towns.
I bought camping supplies and intend to camp as an alternative to hotels.
I have been gone for four nights and have yet to camp or even put together my equipment.
To clarify, I am not an experienced camper and prefer the comforts of a familiar environment.
As I left on Tuesday, everything aligned. The hotel I stayed at could not have been more perfect for what I needed (there were severe thunderstorms in Nebraska so I didn’t camp). The next day even further exceeded expectations. My mood, energy, experiences – everything aligned. The day culminated in a Glamping spot I found online. The glamping spot was cool enough, but then match that with perfect weather. The site was on a still lake to paddleboard.
When I arrived at the site with a giddy permagrin, I got out a snack. I had some cherries and planned ahead to have veggie wash to use in the absence of water. What I didn’t take into consideration was that veggie wash works hard to remove toxins from the fruit PRIOR TO RINSING WITH WATER.
As I paddled, my stomach began to grumble at me. I followed the paddle with a walk on the trail to continue this perfect night. The grumbling continued on the walk. I got back to the site and laid down, not hungry. I awoke just before 10pm with an internal veggie wash cleanse that lasted throughout the night, on the hour. (As I type this, it’s still notsogood).
The good news was that the campsite was top notch and I was one of very few campers needing the clean, public facilities that included running water and typical plumbing.
The story I have learned to tell is that life did not do anything to me.
And on a scale of unexpected things that could happen, it’s not so bad.
Life did not comply with me.
I often think about compliant behavior as an observer in school settings. As a school social worker, I am often in a position to advocate for students who exhibit non-compliant behavior. Non-compliant behavior most likely fits a category that matches one’s stress response: fight, flight, freeze, faint. To paint a picture of observable behavior could be to consider what animals do when they meet a potential threat or danger (hide, escape, freeze, fight, play dead).
The opposite of compliant is defiant. For one thing to exist and be measurable, means the opposite must exist and be measurable as well.
Because I am often advocating for student behavior, I tend to be opposed to absolute compliance that is strictly one-sided, and support the middle of the continuum which I consider to be autonomy or authentic expression. There are varying ways to interpret compliance in a school setting. School rules and expectations are created to provide a structure and environment to work within, much like traffic rules. Although, just like traffic rules and regulations, monitoring the flow and ‘behavior’ outcomes (ie. accidents, tickets, slow downs) can lead to change for improved outcomes based on data collected.
As I notice my own experience of life, I recognize when I get upset or have a reaction to a circumstance, situation, or event, when I dial it back, I find what’s underneath is non-compliance: a peer, family member, publication, post, nature, traffic – a condition – did not comply with me.
My friend and esthetician Arianna, whom I often share about on Instagram related to skin treatments, and I were laughing about how much better life is when people agree with us. If only all others could be compliant to our needs and desired outcomes.
Life is a series of circumstances, situation, and events that are potential dangers, threats, or unexpected challenges.
How did humans (I can really only speak to my experience in the developed country of America) begin to tell a story that when potential dangers, threats, and unexpected challenges show up, that something is wrong and someone is to blame (?)
This is conditional living: If the conditions could match my desired expectation, then I could be happy.
People who assume conditions are responsible for one’s sense of wellbeing, spend a lifetime pushing against noncompliance. This doesn’t work as people are naturally diverse in how they think, feel, and behave.
Unconditional living is oriented to a feeling state that may include one’s version of happy, but really only needs to create a sense of balance and equilibrium. In this unconditional space lives problem solving and broad view. In this unconditional space, it is understood that life is a series of challenges at varying levels of frequency (how often), duration (how long), and intensity (how hard).
What story do you tell when life does not comply?