Rick and I had an enjoyable day wandering through the National Gallery of Rome. Amongst the many, many sculptures, statues, and mosaic, somewhere on the second floor, I saw what was unmistakably a calendar. I was captivated by how the Roman administrator color coded market days and religious holidays. They said that they even noted what activities were allowed and not allowed on certain days.
I love a calendar. I love planning things out and having goals. I love a list. Sometimes I feel like I can’t think unless I have my pencil and notebook in my hands. My life isn’t as appointment oriented as it has been in the past, but I still feel a simpatico relationship with that Roman administrator.
This extended holiday that we have been on has sometimes been challenging for that part of me that loves a calendar. Part of the appeal of two months abroad without an agenda was to let go of attachments to what happens and when. I was eager to exercise how I could be present more often in more moments as they happen.
And then what happens when you put together a person who dislikes planning (Rick) and a person who is trying to let go of needing to plan (Stacy) and let them go off on a two-month adventure? Well, it could have been worse.
It became obvious to both of us over the first few days in Rome that what we were doing wasn’t working. Having to figure out every day where we were going, what we were doing, how we were going to get there, what we were going to eat, and more was just too much. That afternoon, while we were sitting in an Italian style fast food restaurant, we went through a “groundhog day” exercise. My coach, Fabienne Fredrickson, had shared this with me. You write down what worked, what didn’t, what could we do different the next time, and what systems can we put in place to optimize success. The secret is in the systems.
What Rick and I figured out is that we still need to make plans, for several days in advance. We still need to know where we are going, how we are going to get there, and where we are going to stay. We still need to do that planning in a place that has internet. We still need to have discussions about where we are going and what we are going to do when we get there.
Rick is going to embrace his strengths in research and diving deep into a subject matter, so we are prepared when we arrive somewhere. The lesson for me is once we make our plans, to let go. That allows me to be present in those moments. (I imagine Jeni Dahn, one of my gurus, smiling as she reads this.) I still need to utilize my strengths and skills in planning, but my life does not need to be run by a calendar. With our systems in place, I don’t have to worry about what’s next. I can relax and be present. I wonder if that is what the Romans had in mind when they created their calendar?