Friday, June 20, 2008



I meant to say in that last post that part of what I am struck by every day is the beauty of routines. Routines at their best can anchor us and at their worst make us feel chained to sensation, sustenance, and brute welfare. I wonder if you have a routine you love, or hate. When i was in high school i used to ride the bus to school everyday for an hour each way. i had horses to feed, so I had to get up at 5:30 or 6 every morning to feed them, eat, dress, pack, and start walking the half mile to the bus by 6:40 or 6:45. The bus came at 7:10, so usually i ran, clarinet or saxaphone in hand, down the dirt road that smelled of winter, or spring mud, or moldy fall leaves. The sun often rose as i walked, in a rosy glow over the horse field. Every morning I ran, and cursed the dawn and the earliness an the far distance. but in my heart I loved it--loved the routine of the world I shared, and the morning.

In a recent conversation I had with an acquaintance who works in a law firm downtown, he complained to me about his routine. he told me he had done it for five years--gone down to the Loop every day, and had his Starbucks. But that's what woking in the Loop is, I thought. It's going down, and drinking a Starbucks (or Diet Coke). He confessed he felt trapped by the money he was making, but I think something else trapped him, though I wasn't sure what.

I wonder if you love the routine you have, or hate it, and whether it frees your mind, or anchors you, or binds you, or sets you free to drift in the rhythms of the world.


Hilaire said...

I have been loving the routine of feeding the cat in the morning...though she eats raw food, and I'm a vegetarian, so it's inherently gross to deal with, I love it because its routine nature makes me feel needed and not alone - when I feel quite alone a lot of the time these days. Routines can do that, I think. Even if they're not about your relationship with another (human or animal), they often, I find, make you feel like part of something larger than your lonely self.

Flavia said...

I tend to like structure. In fact, what I found hardest to adjust to, in starting grad school, was the total lack of structure--just three classes? Each meeting once a week? Drove me nuts. I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do with the rest of my time: keep re-reading the assigned texts? Take lots of notes? Go to the library? What??

Since then I've found that what works best for me is a certain amount of routine--but five days a week of the same thing can start to feel a bit oppressive. My last two years in grad school, when I was living in the city, I worked two full days a week at a publishing company. I loved getting up and being part of the morning rush on the subway, and having the regular rhythms of the day--coffee breaks, small talk with the co-workers--to make me feel a part of the normal world. But I also loved the days I was at home and could set my own pace, getting up as early or late as I wanted, and writing or reading or grading whenever I chose.

My life is kind of like that now: teaching/being on campus two pretty packed days a week, and going in for 5-6 hours a third day--and working from home the others.

But I think we all learn to make a virtue of necessity, whatever our particular necessity may be.

Brigindo said...

I've lived a life dictated by routine and I currently live one that is fairly unstructured. I like them both for different reasons. I like my routines embedded within my activities but I like the choice of when I engage in that activity, if that makes any sense.

Sfrajett said...

Delightful responses! Hilaire, I know what you mean about enjoying taking care of creatures, and feeling needed. I used to feel that way about my dog--the necessity of exercising her several times a day gave a lot of structure to my life when I lived alonne in a new city. Flavia, I totally agree about wanting balance, and I loved that you made me remember how I feel about that. Too much unstructured alone time makes me feel cut off from the rest of the world, but too much structured routine makes me starved for a moment to have a thought. Brigindo, I think I know what you mean about finding a structure in unstructuredness. I appreciate all these responses, because I DO enjoy this daily routine of getting up and out and joining the morining commuter tides. Thanks!

lil'rumpus said...

Ok, I am late to the party....

I have a love/hate relationship to routine and ritual. If it is something that I have chosen and can break free of when I want, love it. If it is something that feels inevitable, hate it.

Lawfrog said...

I love the routine of my life, although recently it has been shaken up quite a bit with travel. I love to travel, but there is always something inherently calming about returning to my life's routine.

The interesting thing about life is that it is whatever we want it to be. Routines can be shifted, adapted, or changed completely.