When Intentions Don’t Become Reality

by Belinda Munoz on December 5, 2010

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Planes, trains, automobiles.  Boats, horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs, ground cable cars, crystal-bottom aerial lifts and many buses and taxicabs later, I’m back in one piece, thanks to a kick-ass immune system.

And what a trip it was.  Memorable, exciting, definitely one for the books.  Many thanks to all my gracious, mighty generous and loving hosts (you know who you are).

PLANNING

Our culture has us trained to drive our days packed with planned achievements and over-scheduled commitments.  Generally, we know what will happen with our days, where we’ll be between morning and night and with whom we’ll be spending time.  And generally, this level of predictability works.

I wanted my trip to work that way as well so I prepared months in advance, fully subscribing to the adage fail to plan, plan to fail.  I was determined to make the experience as hassle-free as possible.

THE UNPLANNED

But in the real world, most plans are not foolproof and hassle is ubiquitous.

While I was away, I fully intended to keep posting because I love my online home.  Here, I get to furnish and decorate with verbal musings however I want.  My old and new friends are welcome to visit anytime.  We share the sustenance of words that are rich, warm and nourishing if at times a bit high-fat, high-carb and chewy in content.  This space affords me a sense of familiarity amid the frenzy of the foreign that can seem cold and unkind.

So, why the silence?  I could blame it on the night/day time zone change, or the dearth of wi-fi, or plain ol’ physical exhaustion.  But my biggest reason was once I left, my intention changed. I just wanted to give in to the experience fully.  I wanted to see the beauty that is present in the landscape, the harbor, the people.  I wanted to feel the rhythm native to the streets, the temples, the church ruins.  I wanted to smell the incense, to hear the lilt in the spoken words, to catch the respectful nods and smiles.

So I did. And it felt great. It felt great to to observe, to wonder, to wander for miles to destinations I’d never been before. It felt intuitive to leave the moments alone, unadulterated, unexplained, un-penned.  It felt right to just be and to trust in the natural unfolding of an unplanned day.

THE NOT-SO-GREAT

But there were also those moments that felt not-so-great.  You know the saying “When in Rome…”?  I can’t say I rolled as the Romans do the entire time.  There were times I felt more like minced meat than gladiator (though if the latter often ended up as the former, this comparison may be pointless).  There may have been times when I should’ve been left on the battlefield in a triage operation due to an untreatable case of impatience, inflexibility and creature-comfortitis.

WHY THE NOT SO GREAT?

I was human.  And as I say this, I roil inside knowing this couldn’t and shouldn’t be an excuse.  Because, simply, this denigrates the very essence of humanity.  This is the most I can be.  I am human — a statement rife with promise, mystery and surprise that we should all own proudly, fully and unapologetically.

For all my deliberate efforts to choose positivity, I still slip into negativity.  With all my penchant for clarity and simplicity, I still find myself in a sinkhole of complex confusion.  Often.  But this is okay by me.  I don’t have to leave town to know that I have flaws and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to eradicate them.

And so, whether or not we travel anywhere in the world, in the end, it doesn’t matter all that much.

What matters is if we can be fully alive where we are now.  What matters is if we can be appreciative of what we have.  What matters is if we can remember that, tempting though it is to think and act as though the world revolves around us, it simply does not and the billions of others with whom we share this ailing, aging world are also going through great and not-so-great experiences of varying degrees.

What matters is if we can forgive ourselves for the weaknesses that come with our strengths.  Because if we can’t, I don’t believe we can expect others to.  And if reprieve for our own faults is within grasp, then maybe, just maybe, forgiveness of others’ faults is not too remote either.

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How are you at dealing with intentions that don’t become reality?
What’s your all-time most favorite travel destination ever?

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Image by **Maurice**

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 TheKitchenWitch December 6, 2010 at 6:49 am

Sometimes we just have to allow ourselves to pack the expectations away for a while and let the flow carry us along. However, I’ll admit that I have a very hard time doing this. I blame my compulsive nature.

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2 ayala December 6, 2010 at 7:40 am

Welcome home! Great post,Belinda. On my last trip I decided to go with the flow and it was wonderful. There were little surprises that ended up being great. I can’t wait to read all about your trip.

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3 Marci December 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Welcome home Belinda. Your photo captures your title so well! I think it’s great to have unplanned time when nothing needs to be created or produced. While I love the productive times, I so long for the times when we just are. My favorite retreat was when I was alone in the woods, just me, my big coat and blanket. I had nothing I needed to do except to find a way to just be. I think I need to go back 🙂

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4 Katie December 6, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Wow, love your humanity, your embracing of who you are in every moment and every place. I’m so inspired I’m going to start planning my next trip, thanks Belinda.

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5 Patty - Why Not Start Now? December 6, 2010 at 3:27 pm

So nice to hear you had a wonderful trip, Belinda. And although it’s great to have you back writing again, I totally understand the pleasure of letting that go in order to open up space for the unplanned emerge. The thing about intentions that I’m noticing lately is that they have a life of their own, and often want to shift and transform and become something else. I like that about them.

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6 Rudri December 6, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Glad you had a nice trip Belinda. Nice seeing your words again. I am working on doing less expecting and trying to go with the flow. Always a work of progress for me. I am constantly trying to learn how to embrace the surprises, trip or no trip.

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7 rob white December 7, 2010 at 7:11 am

Great post, Belinda. I love your authenticity here: “For all my deliberate efforts to choose positivity, I still slip into negativity. With all my penchant for clarity and simplicity, I still find myself in a sinkhole of complex confusion.” We can all slip into our old negative habits from time to time (especially when traveling). Its incredibly empowering to allow them to be. For every positive thought, there is an equal and opposite negative thought available. This is simply how it is in the ‘mental realm’ (in which most human beings think): Opposite thoughts exist!

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8 Sara Healy December 7, 2010 at 9:48 am

Belinda — I think of the famous lines uttered by Mark Darcy to Bridget Jones, “I like you just the way you are!” Perfection would be rather boring, don’t you think?

I am pleased that you enjoyed your trip and that you allowed yourself to go with it and not meet every expectation. My favorite line of the many great ones in this post was this one: “What matters is if we can be fully alive where we are now.”

My all time favorite travel destination is the beach, with the Swiss Alps a strong second. Welcome back:~)

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9 Fr. Michael December 7, 2010 at 9:51 am

I find that I often have the best of intentions, but then completely fail to live up to them. What I’ve learned–and still learning–is patience with myself. I simply try to be gentle with myself and then begin again. I don’t see it as defeat, but as an opportunity to start afresh.

Welcome back! Glad you had a great trip!

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10 Malo December 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I love this post as usual. When my intentions fail, as it happens freqiuently, accepting my humanity helps me get back on track. Fr. Michael puts it wonderfully! Welcome back!

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