No, really. I’m serious.
So today — just for a change — I want to be an ornery cuss, and buck this trend.
I want to speak in praise of routine.
Ingrid and I just got back from a vacation in which, for complicated reasons that I won’t bore you with, we stayed in five different rooms, in three different homes and hotels. All throughout that trip — and for several days after getting back home from it — my daily routine was seriously disrupted.
And this put rather a crimp in my life. The vacation was great, for all the reasons that vacations are great. But it was also disruptive: even more so than a regular vacation where you stay in one or two places. And in the week or so that I’ve been back at home trying to get back into my groove, my style has been rather cramped. The loss of my routine has made my life less lively, less joyful, less present and mindful. Finally settling back into that routine has been a relief… and it’s enabled me to live my life more fully.
And I screw things up. I forget to bring my lunch to work. I leave my wallet on the sofa. I lose my workout notebook. All of which takes even more time and mental energy to deal with.
That’s time and mental energy that I don’t have to spend on things like, say, writing. Talking with friends. Pondering the nature of existence. Looking at trees.
Plus it’s an irritant. And getting irritated every half an hour because you lost your workout notebook and can’t find your underwear is probably not the best state of mind for a present, mindful, fully-lived life.
(Side note: I think it’s funny that many of the people who deride routine are the same people who praise ritual, and bemoan the lack of it in our rushed modern society. If I call brushing my teeth and journaling my workouts a ritual instead of a routine, can I get my alt-culture cred back?)
But… well, actually, I think that’s my point. I don’t think it’s up to us to judge other people for having a happy balance point between rigidity and chaos that’s different from ours.
Yes, too much routine — whatever “too much” means for you — can be tedious and stultifying. Yes, doing the same things day in and day out can lead you to space out from your life instead of engaging you with it. Yes, we need to be willing to try new things, and to make room in our lives for surprises. Yes, we need to not be so attached to our routine that we’re afraid to ever let go of it.
But I have a limited amount of time on this earth. I would really rather not spend it figuring out where I put my underwear.