thoughts on food, culture, and community

30×30: Lesson 20: Leave it to chance

Santiago, Chile 2012. A standby venture

Santiago, Chile (2011)

My friend Lynn was walking me to my car in Lewisburg, PA, after just having finished eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I don’t remember what why I was in town or when this story took place, but I do remember I was carrying the plastic bag that held our leftovers, divided between two paper cartons.

Just before we said goodbye, I exclaimed, “Oh! Do you remember which box is which?”

Lynn picked up the carton nearest to her. “I don’t,” she said, “but let’s not check. Life’s more interesting if you leave some things to chance.”


If you haven’t sensed this from this series so far, I am generally not okay with the unplanned. Some would say my love for organizing my days stems from my perfectionism, but I would also offer that sometimes it’s survival (grad school and living in two cities) or respect (if I want to have your time, I want to make sure that I can give you mine).

But — as Jon Hoey constantly shows me — spontaneity is healthy. So is balance. For the three years that I had the privilege to fly standby due to the graciousness of my flight attendant friend Emily Orner, the days (usually once a summer) in which I arrived at Harrisburg International Airport with the uncertainty of knowing if I would have arrived to Philadelphia or Phoenix or Anchorage by nightfall (or Charlotte, Miami, or Santiago, Chile, as the photograph above shows) always evoked soul-crunching fear.

But spontaneity allows experiences to grow organically and more triumphantly. In being more vulnerable, I have found myself more grateful.

I can no longer fly around the world on a whim, but Lynn showed me that most attitude shifts must start small and exercise daily, like a muscle that needs to be strengthened.

I ended up with her food, by the way.

Find an introduction on this series here.  Dig into other life lessons here.



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2 thoughts on “30×30: Lesson 20: Leave it to chance

  1. I was secretly hoping that you would end up with mine because I wanted to try yours, too. 🙂 Hey, wasn’t that the day we drove to Frenchville, PA, also on a whim? In fact, I think that’s exactly why we had Chinese in the trunk. It was during finals week, I think. It was crazy to up and take an entire afternoon at that time of the semester, but I felt so free! Driving off to some obscure backwoods village in the mountains where we found a little jewel of a French church and a cemetery with lines of headstones engraved with French names – in the heart of German PA. I loved that adventure.

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