The delayed flight lands roughly, jostling me from my not-quite-reading-not-quite-napping daze. The disgruntled passengers next to me are scowling and glancing frantically at their watches.
I slide out of my seat, sling on my “Is that all you’re taking?” backpack, and mosey down the walkway. As I should have guessed, my cell phone doesn’t work here. So off I go into a new city with only have a scribbled address and a guesstimated subway stop.
Do I know where I will be staying after tonight? No. Do I have any appointments definitively set with the artists here? No. But I have arrived in places with cultural differences far more vast with far less.
The subway proves to be easily navigable. I exit the station and glance around. I have six hours until my host can meet me. Which way to a cafe that has Wifi? Eh, that direction feels good.
About six blocks down, I spot Cabin Fever Collective. The font on the awning looks promisingly hipster.
Bingo. It’s a record store/cafe/gallery. The staff are duly dressed in polished-grungy attire, but their smiles and sincere hospitality verify the gentile-Canadian stereotype. Yep. This will be the perfect place to clear email inboxes and consume coffee and vegan cookies.
Why is this free-fall of arriving in a city with only a glimmer of a plan becoming more and more comfortable? Shouldn’t I be panicked without a plan?
At this point, arriving with no plan feels more reasonable and manageable than constantly renegotiating a predetermined plan that inevitably crumbles.
This project’s onslaught of unforeseeable circumstances and obstacles have given me ample practice with trusting my intuition. I can determine a good Couchsurfing host with only a 10 second perusal of their profile. I can finger which artists will actually respond to my inquiry emails just by glancing at the homepage of their websites. I can predict which taxi drivers will think a solo female traveller is an easy target to scam by the tilt of their heads.
After meeting hundreds of new people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, after navigating cities (solo) of all shapes and sizes and hostilities, making a decision with my gut feels more reliable than decisions made after hours of research.
Malcolm Gladwell discusses the importance and reliability of split second decisions in his book Blink, which I serendipitously (intuitively?) started reading on the flight today:
We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it…We believe that we are always better off gathering as much information as possible an depending as much time as possible in deliberation. We really only trust conscious decision making. But there are moments, particularly in times of stress, when haste does not make waste, when our snap judgments and first impressions can offer a much better means of making sense of the world. The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.
― Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking
What about you? Do you prefer to make your decisions intuitively? Do you need to know every possible aspect of a situation before you can make a decision? Does too much research hinder your ability to make a decision?