by Bill Chapman
It never fails! Whenever I respond spontaneously to my impulses, initial regret inevitably ensues! I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me. After all – quite apart from living recklessly – acting without thinking is not what you’d normally call especially clever and as a result one should reckon a boomerang. Nonetheless I sometimes act upon sudden inclination. If one prefers to fashion one’s self other than a complete automaton, it likely palliates that psychosis to act with a random pulse of electric energy. Besides it is rather a misnomer to suggest that acting extempore is entirely without premeditation or external stimulus. My experience is in fact quite the opposite; namely, my so-called uninhibited behaviour is usually the logical progression of prior signs. Indeed the urge to do whatever is made all the stronger by the force of antecedents. For example, if I am lucky enough to have had a particularly good few days or hours – you know, when everything extraordinarily goes the right way for a change – it makes sense to do something special to live it up. Admittedly the deduction is at times out of proportion to the intoxicating urge but that is where spontaneity earns its colours. There has to be an element of the preposterous to what one does if it is to qualify as off-the-cuff and fanciful and maybe even deliciously tempting!
Some people regard spontaneity as strengthening. Far be it from me to assume captaincy in such matters. When it comes to behaving suddenly and without forethought, I am the last person to parade that banner! Committed as I am to the advantage of sticking with what knows to be satisfactory, I could for example happily do the same thing over and over again – eat the same food, wear the same type of clothes, drive the same car, holiday in the same place – day after day, month after month and year after year and never tire of it. At least I think I could. But oddly something now and then happens to disrupt the predictable ﬂow. Suddenly I am possessed of an irresistible notion to do something outlandish. I rationalize these whimsical desires as the percolation of subliminal thoughts. It’s not as though I amazingly manufacture the choreography of uncharacteristic conduct. Rather it is the germination of an idea which has been dormant. To the even-minded candidate these rare outbursts are the recognizable product of well-nurtured caprice. In spite of the virtual military drill practised by conscientious people, there is quite possibly purring in the background like a television ad the thought of doing something off-beat. It’s almost a question of balance if nothing else.
Spontaneity does not exist in a vacuum. Assuming the scheme involves the companionship of at least one other, the embryonic idea has to be sold to one’s accomplice. This is not always easy. The ﬁrst hurdle is to convince the co-conspirator that you haven’t taken leave of your senses. You may even encounter unforgiving resistance if austerity and other economic considerations come into play, all part of that stark asceticism which is the enemy of instinct. And then there is the need to surmount the existing agenda; inevitably something has to be set aside or at least rearranged. Indeed by the time you work through the details of accommodation you might wonder if the proposal is worth the effort and you may begin to regret having mentioned it at all! But preservation of one’s dignity demands you see it through. In time you’ll likely convince yourself of the propriety of the affair and to back down will only precipitate self-recrimination and despondency.
It is the happy consequence of spontaneity that it invariably opens the windows of one’s soul to freshness and vigour. Turning life on its head even for a moment promises new perspectives and the reward of distraction and novelty. Spontaneity kindles an appetite for living and engenders a child-like amusement with what we have sadly at times learned to ignore or manipulated for purposes of control without even knowing we’re unwittingly boxing ourselves in.
Regrettably perhaps, the experience of bon vivant, like any other in life, is destined to amortize predictably and it is assured that you’ll soon discover yourself pining for the regiment of your erstwhile style. It is however these striking differences juxtaposed which heighten our appreciation of life. Monotony on any level is nonetheless featureless. In the end I am of the belief that the human condition is best disposed to regularity but the intermittent madness of spontaneity usefully resets the internal clock.