I decided on Friday that I would spend the day making it up as I go. I loaded my backpack up with possible activities – my laptop, my notebook, a set of jacks, earphones, coloring books, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo… I was prepared to be imaginative. But on my way out, I got derailed. To share why might be too much information. Suffice it to say that the cure for my derailment involved an actual doctor.

I couldn’t have asked for a more real time, this-is-what-it-means-to-make-it-up-as-you-go sort of catalyst. What I needed could not be found in my backpack, and from its beginning (me in search of an indie cafe with wireless) to its end (my music-filled evening in Napa), Friday was, in fact, a day made up as I went.

And I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I know I’m stating the obvious to say that life is a work in progress, that we do – all of us – make it up as we go. But I’ve been thinking about how, for me, making it up as I go has been a fairly passive activity. Life throws a curve ball, I react. I improvise. Sometimes it’s jarring, disorienting. Sometimes it’s wonderful.

I wonder if there’s value in adopting a more assertive version of making it up as you go. Like my backpack full of options. What if I, at least occasionally, toss my list of things to do, and head out into the day armed not with a plan, but with possibility.

I don’t think you can make it work all the time, and anyone who reads me regularly knows I am a lover of lists and a firm believer in the power of enumeration, but I’m thinking that maybe an active make-it-up-as-you-go strategy that is, by nature, not completely defined, might sometimes yield the best results. And by best I mean rewarding, fulfilling, fun… curious in the best sense of the word.

I like the idea of that – seeking out, rather than simply reacting to – life’s surprises. What do you think? Are you in?

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