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This picture reminds me to just keep taking the next right step.
By far the most frequently-asked question of me at the moment is “How is the planning going?” I had a bit of deja vu writing that sentence and thought I must have written about it last year, but I’ve just had a look back at the entries for February, and I can’t see anything.
So yeah, “planning”. We’re taught that failing to plan is planning to fail. But I can’t say enough that this trip is an improvisation, it has some structure that makes the concept understandable (I’m starting on the left hand side and ending up on the right…) but beyond that I will be making it up as I go along.
There are two bits to that.
Firstly I’ll be making it up, I don’t know what it is yet, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Even the things that I think I know are actually uncertain. The trip will unfold just like every other bit of our lives. I’ll be making decisions about what to do and whenever I remember to (or whenever there’s time to do so), I’ll be asking you for help making those decisions. So actually, we’ll be making it up.
Secondly it’s as I go along. I’m not going to make big decisions beforehand. There are things that I’m strongly drawn to – I do want to spend time in Austin for SXSWi, I do want to visit certain people. But the story will be whatever the story is and it will emerge day by day. It may turn out that I need to make decisions about later in the trip, but I will be trying to consciously observe and reflect on that decision-making process and always asking whether the actual decision has to be made now.
So I’m more interested in preparation than planning.
- I need to take as much rest as I can and look after myself this week – I’m going to be on the road for a month and I need to be match-fit for that. No late nights. No helping out people on their projects who really can do it themselves.
- I need to put some things in order back here – y’know all the little bitty things that I would somehow have managed to get done during March but it would be better to get done before I go rather than waiting till I get back.
- I need to make sure I have appropriate clothing for the length of the trip and the likely differences in weather that I’ll encounter.
- I need to get to know any kit that I’m taking so that I can use it confidently from the very start.
- I need to have a spending plan to help me make decisions based on however much money I raise.
- I need to make sure all my bills get paid on time here while I’m away.
- I need to pack, but not really until next weekend.
I think that’s all, but I’m bound to have forgotten something
I learned, experientially, two important lessons during last year’s trip that I thought I already knew. It turned out I knew the theory, but I needed some schooling in the practice.
Firstly, I learned that more interesting things happen when I give up (the illusion of) control over what happens next. The classic example of this was the day that I ended up jamming with twenty beaming ukulele-playing senior citizens instead of snoozing in a DC hotel room.
The second is the reason that I have this picture of a small street of shotgun houses in NOLA in my flickr stream. It’s because when I was in New York, 5 days earlier, I blogged that we couldn’t afford to pay for anywhere to stay and we needed help. And in no time Taylor had introduced us to his friend Laura who generously gave us the use of her house for four days, the front step of which I stood on to take that picture.
In a couple of weeks I’m going to have the chance to practice them again, except this time I’ve purposefully built them into the structure of the trip. What I’ve also learned is that I don’t necessarily get to be immediately more comfortable with either of them, I just have to keep practicing.