The Routine of Life

My subconscious has been doing a lot of mulling of late. While haphazard thoughts normally travel pinball machine style throughout my head, it would seem that my brain has been on overdrive. The reason completely escaped me as for some time I couldn’t quite put my finger on the why. Then it finally occurred to me – I was bored.

However, when I looked at my boredom more closely I realized that it was not monotony that I felt, but rather contentment, cleverly disguised by a veil of unease. I have spent a great deal of time lately dissecting the words and stories told by friends, colleagues, and randoms on the street. What I have noticed is a collective pattern of contentment with the part of life that I have always deemed as mundane – the day to day tasks which take up way too much time and in turn, limit a sought life filled with enjoyment, excitement, and wondrous adventure. Time and time again I have listened to people reliving detail after detail of extended family dinners or the overly simplistic agenda for an event filled Sunday evening. The sheer complacency of their stories struck a chord with me – first one of slight restlessness, then, not long after, came the manifestation of envy.

RoutineFor as long as the boundaries of my memory will reach, I cannot remember ever being still. While I may appear physically at rest, my brain is forever on hyper drive (another lovely trait I inherited from my mother).  When I hear people retell stories of the cyclical patterns of their life my immediate thought goes to “dear god, how boring your life must be”. Since my speed racer brain is always go, go, going, I find routines difficult to comprehend, let alone follow. Now before you accuse me of being a cynical know it all, allow me to say this – I’m pretty sure my thinking has been wrong.

I have come to appreciate that there is not only comfort in routine but also an inner peace in the execution of honest work.  One of my favourite library shifts is when I am in the library all alone, hours before the doors are opened to the public. During that time I become immersed in the “energy” of the books. The atmosphere is quiet and dare I say serene – my mind finally slows down and a smile of content inevitably crosses my face.  Not so long ago I would have found the task of browsing book shelves mind numbingly boring. Today, such simple, honest works fills me with pure joy and reverence for I have finally learned the true value of a job well done.

Certainly, my paper education can, will, and has afforded me higher paying and higher demanding jobs that came with titles, illusions of power, and erroneous leadership opportunities. I have also been a bottom feeder, the “go get this, go get that” person who is nothing more than a gopher with a pay cheque. However, in my current mid-level job, one that affords me the ability to instill change and impact people but does not force me to be on the receiving end of bitterness and endless employee complaints, I find that I am so content in my work routine that I almost need to remind myself that it’s okay to be a person who enjoys going to work. While my employment tasks can be painfully routine it does afford me the occasional sprinkling of creative exploration. The main bonus –  I am able to return home without worry or homework and am granted the time and energy to thoroughly enjoy my passions and loves. I have come to learn that, for me, it is in this daily existence and routine that life is really lived.

Can you find yourself on this map?
Can you find yourself on this map?

So, have I managed to shut my brain off? No, not yet – but I promise I am working on it. Where my current roadblock has built itself is in letting go of what I believe I am missing out on. Despite a valiant effort to establish a distance relationship with my Smart phone, I still find myself checking it often, looking for a much welcomed text message from a friend or an anticipated reply to an email. It is in these moments that I need to consciously remind myself that it is okay to sit and be still, both mentally and physically, and that the world will continue as it is intended despite the small bubble of existence I have established for myself. As a self-coaching exercise in these moments, I have trained myself to visualized Earth as it is viewed from space. I’ll tell myself, “Find yourself on this map”. Then I laugh. A life really is created amongst the daily routine and patterned maneuvers of our individual existence. Human animals are the only ones within the animal kingdom who think otherwise. Animals thrive on daily routine – eat, sleep, defecate, procreate, repeat. When death comes, it simply means the routine is at an end. However, we humans fill our lives with great expectations and desires of grandeur. But what I have come to fully comprehend is that when we cease to be living beings, our anticipations and worries cease as well. Collected memories only remain with those who are left behind. I now recognize that I need to stop searching for that next big adventure or the “something more” that the Diet Coke commercials seem to think I desire. I need to appreciate the here and now and live life in its tiny moments. For it is in all those tiny moments that a life filled with intrigue, gratefulness, and devotion is built.

Who knew routines could be so profound.

Erica 🙂

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