Sensibility .vs. Spontaneity (Cup # 25)

Only a few weeks had passed since placing the first 'Care to join me for tea' ad on Gumtree when an email arrived in my inbox - an email that was just a little bit different than the others I had received.

I would love to.
There's only one tiny detail, I live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Take care,
Sara SebastiĆ£o

I read Sara’s email again, amazed at how quickly word had spread beyond the shores of England. I should be clear – this email was sent to me in May of 2010 – and while I have since travelled to Australia, Canada, and the United States, all to sit down for tea with complete strangers – I can still remember the feelings of nervous excitement that reading Sara’s first email brought on. I would love to be able to say that I booked a flight the next day and went off to Lisbon for that cup of tea – that I threw caution to the wind and did something a little bit crazy – but I didn’t. My financial situation as it was (and still is), the travel tends to rely a little more on circumstance than it does on spontaneity. For now, I can live with that...

Spontaneity is a strange feeling. Most of us long for it. Require it at times. But it isn’t always sensible, is it? What a shame that sensibility has become such an ingrained part of our lives. We organise our existence around the idea that we must always be sensible – that we must live within the confines of what is socially acceptable. The thing about sensibility though, is that it doesn’t leave all that much room for spontaneity...

As luck would have it, a rather spontaneous trip brought Sara to London. Her friends thought it was a little bit odd that she was going off to meet a strange guy for a cup of tea – odd, but not surprising. Like me, Sara knows how important it is to be spontaneous now and again...

I’m not saying that being sensible is a bad thing. Even I am sensible, most of the time. But I do think that we need to find that balance in our lives between the necessity that is sensibility, and the urges that we call spontaneity. My life is more about taking a few risks, than it is about playing it safe all the time. Was it sensible to travel to Australia for a cup of tea? How about to Philadelphia or Seattle? No, not really – maybe not at all. But every one of those silly, impractical, spontaneous decisions I made have lead me to great things – to new friends; to amazing conversations; to new experiences. Maybe the quest to drink tea with 100 strangers isn't a very sensible one – but I’m okay with that. After all, regret lies not in the mistakes that we make in life, but in the chances that we never had the courage to take. 

Maybe more of us need to be willing to take whatever life throws at us, and run with it. We need to give up control more often – be willing to make mistakes. Put sensibility in the back seat, and let spontaneity drive for a little while. Roll with the punches, because you never know where they might lead you. Maybe to a new job? Or to a new friend? To fame and fortune? To love?

Or maybe to a little cafe near Baron’s Court for a cup of tea with complete stranger.

If that happens to be the case – I suppose there is a sensible question that needs asking...

One sugar, or two?


  1. Hi Gregory.........

    Really loved your article.....the way you have talked about this natural war between spontaneity and sensibility, about regrets and actually a feeder for self rumination......

    The idea of having a cup of tea with strangers to help evoke new ideas, experience is definitely worth a try to make life more meaningful....

    Would love to share a cuppa with you if you ever plan to travel to India

    Cheers and Keep up the warm spirit

  2. loved your article