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On Routines (Part 1)
Feeling lost in the most familiar of places
Routines are important. They keep us grounded.
They can also be dreadfully dull.
The safety and comfort that a good routine affords has the potential to become a part of the problem rather than the solution.
This is a bit of what I have been feeling of late. I have not recorded an episode of the podcast in months. I want to. At the same time, I am not sure what I even have to say or what I want to talk about in that format. I feel like I am always running the risk of just repeating myself over and over again.
Admittedly, there is a lot of that. It is hard not to repeat yourself when you feel you have something important to say, but it seems like no one is listening or taking any of it to heart. You begin to yell louder and louder, hoping that someone will take you seriously.
I stopped recording to simply take a break, regroup, and figure out a new plan for what I wanted to say. A list of topics separate from those I discuss here. Or a plan to tie the two together in a way that would seem largely seamless. And in the process, I fell into a new routine that has just left me lacking in enthusiasm and drive to do…
I eat dinner and then sit down on the couch and do practically nothing. Sometimes I will watch a movie. Other times I will scroll TikTok or read a book or just play games. This is every day. Like clockwork.
I hate it.
Yet, on the days when I do not dothat for whatever reason, I feel lost and as though something is missing from my day. Like I forgot to do something.
I am stagnating. It makes me feel lost in a way.
Like all animals, we are creatures of habit. We follow the same paths from point A to point B. We eat the same foods. We shop at the same stores. We really do not vary our routines too much. These routines bring us a sense of safety or security. But I am also not entirely convinced that our brains are wired to stick to the exact same routine day in and day out, ad infinitum.
Take a cat for example. If you watch closely enough, you will find that they walk through the house along the same paths, almost step for step. They eat at the same time. They go to sleep at the same time. They do not like it when those routines are bothered or when there is a dramatic change. Then, one day, they are walking along and it is as if they have snapped. Their eyes go wide, they pause briefly, and they run full speed, in random directions, attacking every little toy in their path.
And then they go back to normal.
The routines are nice, but sometimes you have to shake things up a bit in order for them to maintain meaning.
A week or so ago, I purchased a couple of resources from some random guy on TikTok: a shadow work journal, and something on the 369 method for manifestation. I am not sure if either of them is something that I “need” in my life. I would assume that we can all benefit from taking some time and confronting our personal demons and shadows. However, I do think a method for setting intention in my daily life, as the 369 journal purports to contain, could definitely be useful for me. Like a cat leaping into the zoomies, I think my impulse purchase was much the same. The routine is slowly beginning to drive me crazy. Or drag me down. And I feel it actually beginning to create a feeling of distance from others within myself.
It feels like I am beginning to seclude myself.
I do not think I am alone in feeling this way. I think, if we look at our culture we are seeing something similar play out in all of our interactions with each other. Our willingness to kill and exclude and spout hate at others for even the most mundane and pointless of things seems like a negative outpouring of this boredom with everything always being the same.
When Donald Trump ran for president on a platform of making America great again, he was giving voice to a sentiment felt by many that things had been a certain way for too long and it all needed to be shaken up a bit in order to bring us back to something that they felt was lacking in the way things are. While in a certain context, I disagree with him, I think this might be a good way to understand what C. S. Lewis once said:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.
We are half-hearted, but maybe it is not an intentional half-heartedness. Maybe we are half-hearted because the routines and slog of daily life have left us without the ability to be anything else. It has bogged us down so much that we really are content to “make mud pies in a slum” because what really is the point of doing anything else? So when someone, anyone, comes along with the enthusiasm of a cat caught up in the zoomies, it catches our attention. We are perfectly content to keep making mud pies, but we will take that holiday, in fact, we will take it way too far, with the intention of going back to the mud pies when we are done.
We believe the routine will be waiting for us when we get back.
But what do we do if it is not?
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