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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Casteel

How Many Balloons

We never got our house to fly, but that wasn't the point. In fact there was no point to it at all. We were never going to reach our goal, but it was so much fun testing our theory that it didn't matter. My son would hold the balloon string while I was tying it on. When it was ready I'd tell him to let it go and he'd throw it up and jump back, expecting the jolt from our house taking off. When it didn't, he'd shout, "Another!" and jump up and down.

This is the nature of practicing aimlessness, which is a term that is maligned in western culture but is far more useful than it seems. I'm not suggesting you be lazy or unfocused, but that you do not set any conditions (or aims) you must meet to be happy on any given day.

Like last night, we went out for our family walk, the first in over a week because of the smoke. We were almost home, where we were going to start bath night, when we saw one of my son's friends playing baseball out in the street. My son just got a baseball bat and mitt and was super excited to get to try them out.

We immediately gave up on bath night and spent a magical hour under the street lights taking turns batting grounders to each other until we lost all the balls down the hill. My son was beaming and going on about how he caught most of the things that were hit towards him (I wasn't about to correct him on that).

Had we stuck to our aim of bath night, we would have missed a magical eat-your-heart-out-Norman-Rockwell life experience. Had I attached any part of my happiness to meeting that aim, I wouldn't have been present to fully enjoy the fun we had. We can always find time for another bath, but you can't replace watching your kid learning how to play ball from an older kid who is so patient and helpful (seriously, way beyond what I expect from 10 year olds).

So tomorrow when you wake up, don't burden yourself with a ton of goals for the day. You know your purpose. You can apply yourself to that more effectively if you don't pin your hopes on any particular outcome. If an amazing opportunity comes along, you'll be free and present for it.

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