July 25, 2013

How to Nip a Whim in the Bud

I want to move to the country.

I want to breath in lungfuls of fresh air each morning. I want to be able to step out my back door and walk for miles along beautiful paths to glorious views. I want to be alone- not a soul around for miles. I want to know the ways and lives of the animals and birds. I want to be re-acquainted with the faces of the moon. I want to feel the rainstorm crash through my bones and the sun entangle in my hair.  I want to live in quiet serenity and awe of the huge trees in the forest, the slow dance of the seasons, and the webs that bind us to each other.

I am two breaths from calling up my Best Beloved and suggesting we move to somewhere in the midwest where the land is cheap (relatively) and the people are sparse.

But I won't.

The country as I am imagining it is a collage of scenes from romantic movies, gothic books, and pictures from the turn of the century. Images where the young noble woman spends hours drifting through the woods, a book in her hand and no destination in her feet. Where she returns home to the manor to set a simple table, or have her maids do it. Where family and friends are a mile or two stroll through meadows, farms and hills.

Unfortunately, if I move to the country with my Best Beloved, our lives won't be like that. For one thing, we would need to live in town considering our potential jobs and our grad school debts. The isolation I crave would be impossible or else require a very long commute into work each day. If so a commute, then groceries, supplies and other necessities would also be far away.

Entertainment would not be so varied or available as it is in a larger city. There would not be, from my handful of experiences, the same people with varied and unique interests. Yes, there would be outdoors, but they would not be the vast forests I have imagined of England and I would probably not have hours to walk through them every day.

In short, the sudden passion for the simple, outdoor life brought on by being caught in rain storms for two successive days is just a whim.

Everyday, my mind is filled with half filled plans that are more passion than thought. They can verge from the dramatic- quitting school to devote myself to writing- to the simple - picking up a free, metal shelving unit for my closet without measuring. Does the same happen to you?

I indulge in these whims too often. My sewing box overflows with half started projects that seemed like a brilliant idea for the first few hours. There are a number of books bought on impulse and never read on my bookshelf. My relationships with friends and family are littered with excited plans to do things that were backed out of at the last moment. I do have a large metal shelf that is too large for my closet looming at the foot of my bed.

Usually, these impulses are not overly damaging. Eventually, I'll finish the projects, read the books, do things with my family and figure out what the heck to do with this shelf. The disappointments are worn away with time and other activities.

Luckily, I've avoided committing myself to any big or life changing plans on a whim like moving to Israel, joining the army, giving away all my possessions, moving to a hermitage, taking random jobs, etc. (Yes, these have all been thoughts at one point or another.) But there is a lot of energy put into the initial stages and planning of a project. To see it abandoned as the whim fades, is painful and makes me wonder if I will ever be able to see anything through to completion. These disappointments are not worn away so easily. So while whims may seem, well, whimsical, indulging often in them is not.

There are four steps that I have found to nipping a whim in the bud before you can tack on any energy, time or money into indulging it.

1. Identify that this is a whim. Realize what was the origin of this new whim. Was it a book you just read? A movie? Were you listening to a certain type of conversation? Or music?

2. Think deeply about this whim. What exactly do you want to do? As I showed at the beginning of this post, my idea of moving to the country was more than just a simple move to a less populated part of the country. Often times, this will reveal the unrealistic expectations behind the whim.

3. Rationally think about the consequences of the whim. A good imagination is just as good as coming up with downsides as it is with coming up with the pro's of a whim if given the right motivation. A move to the country does not just entail a deeper- possible- connection with nature. It also means leaving the culture that I enjoy surrounding myself with and separating further from friends and family. Once the good and bad sides of a whim are revealed, it generally loses the immediate, passionate appeal.

4. See if you can incorporate some part of the real whim into your every day life. I am clearly missing a connection with nature- so I can take a walk this weekend and enjoy the outdoors a bit more. This may cut down on further whims and further indulgences later.

Whims can add joyful spontaneity in life. Obviously, the answer isn't to cut them out completely. However, you should be able to choose which whims to indulge in- not be victim to every passing one.

What whims have you had? Do you regret any?


  1. Oh, I'm very god at nipping whims in the bud! I barely get any serious ones to begin with and when I do a simple appliance of some logic works wonders! I'm the whim killer among my friends too, the rational thought that kills their whims! Some harmless whims are fabulous to have though!! I love the mad kind of whims that my mother get, they are mostly harmless but they bring some strangeness and crazy adventures to everyday life!

    1. No, I'm no god at nipping whims in the bud, only good! ;P

    2. I also want to say that I completely understand your countryside whim! I experience the awe and serenity that you describe regularly. I live in the country, not very far from a larger city but close to sea shore, deep forests and arid bogs. And quite close to the isolation you describe. I LOVE living in the country but I do understand that it is not for everyone!

    3. Sigh. The whim was more calling up my Best Beloved and asking if we could move to the midwest in search of the nature and isolation. The desire to live in the country itself? That is a much deeper desire.

      Now, I don't know if you know much about the American Midwest, but it is very flat and covered mostly in cornfields and anti-abortion billboards (at least in my experience this summer.) There is a beauty to the prairie, but I am not a frontiers-woman. If I could find a place that was close to the sea, the forest, and the bogs- I would move their in a heart beat. What do you like best about living in the country? And what are some of the crazy adventures your mother's whims took you on?

      But it's good that your friends have you and that you recognize the benefit that can come from smaller whims. Life is all about balance and it looks like you provide a good, steadying influence.

    4. I like everything about living in the country but if I have to choose one thing I would say that having nature close by is the best thing about it! I also love the security of living in a small village, the fact that we don't even have to lock the door when we leave home... I also have very deep roots in the village where I live. I live on land where my family has lived for many many generations, at least 600 years. It is a powerful feeling of being part of the land that I can get nowhere else on earth.

      My mother has all sorts of crazy everyday whims... Just small little adventures like "let's go there!" or " I want to do that!" and then we just go there and do that without really planning to. Damn everything else, when the whim strikes we just go! Her whims can also be "I want a puppy!" or "I want to build a greenhouse from these old windows!", little (or big) projects that bring a lot of happiness in the end. I don't really get those sorts of whims, I'm too happy with status quo, so I'm really thankful for her whims and her resolve sometimes to see the resulting projects through to the end!

    5. How interesting to have such a tie to the land. Was you family farmers at one point? My great grandfather came from Sweden at the turn of the last century. Every generation from that point has moved around. My parents left the state where my grandparents live to move further west. I am now on the other side of the country from them and expect to move several more times in my life. Do your grandparents still live with you? This might be a hard question to answer: but what is it like to be part of the land like that? Will you inherit it eventually? Have you ever found the inspiration to move?

    6. My family were farmers up until about two generations ago. The farming ended when my grandfathers older brother died. All my relatives live within an hours drive from where me and my parents live. My grandfather lives just five minutes away. I have moved once in my life, I lived in Sweden for seven years and I studied there. I just recently moved back to my home village in Finland and that was always the plan! I knew I wouldn't be able to stay away! It was good to be somewhere else for a while, see something new, live differently... But ultimately my village is where I belong! I just have this intence feeling of being at home, at ease and I feel a connection to the history of this place. I feel like I can almost know my ancestors through the land we share. This feeling is intensified when I realixe that my family is the only family that has owned this land, my family settled the land almost as soon as it rose from the sea. I cant explain it any better than that this land is part of me and I am part of this land! I will inherit half of it eventually, the other half will probably go to my brother...

    7. That is such a lovely, resonate description of family and home. I would very much like to have such a connection to a place, but I don't think it is built into the American psyche in the same way. In some ways, the lack of ties to family can be very freeing. On your own, you are able to adapt and reinvent yourself with nothing holding you back. But it is also very lonely and alienating when there is no home or land to return to. If you ever wanted to write a blog post about your deep connection to your land and/or you family (or you have already) I would love to read it.

    8. I haven't written anything about the subject yet, but maybe I will someday. I'll let you know if I do! :)