I tried as much as possible not to predict what lessons, if any, I might learn while in China. I didn’t want any hypotheses to color my experience. I thought that if I just let as much happen as naturally as possible then I would have a more authentic experience.
There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m enjoying this new way of life. Previously I was a vicious planner. If it didn’t get planned, it didn’t get done. That worked for me when I lived a normal nine-to-five lifestyle.
Now, however, I am thoroughly enjoying just drifting. And, as much as I tried not to predict what would be different about my life here in China, this difference I did see coming, in large part because the change happened while I was still in the States. I sensed that I was happier when I just went with the flow. I don’t mean that I let everyone walk all over me or that I didn’t have strong opinions; I simply mean that I was much more fluid in my planning. I was more like a glider than an airplane. They’re both flying, but one’s using up a whole lot more energy.
I can think of three solid examples of how loose planning has actually helped me achieve more since I’ve been here. First, I went on that awesome scramble with the Korean guy. I love scrambling, but I doubt I would have blocked out 5 hours for it had I made a schedule for my day. Second, I found a job quickly because I kept my search loose and open. I had always heard the phrase “the right place at the right time”, and this time I focused on doing just that, but not sweating any finer level of detail. Third, I’ve been on several adventures with Steven simply because I’ve been around and available for impromptu discovery. There’s no way I could have planned these adventures because I had no idea the activities even existed beforehand!
Don’t get me wrong, there’s been plenty of down time and wasted time, but that’s the case even in your high stress nine-to-five scenario. No system is perfectly efficient. The point is simply that I let go of a bit of control, and the universe just sort of made sure that the details worked themselves out.
I think an apt analogy is a leaf falling from a tree. Depending on the tree, its falling leaves might zig zag or seesaw to the ground; they might spin around like helicopter blades; some are even carried significant distances from their source. None of those details really matter. In the end, all the leaves make it to the ground. The air always cushions a leaf’s fall. Always! The leaf simple needs to let go and trust that everything will be OK. This is the state of mind I’ve dubbed “leafin’”.