The concept of routine is a curious one. On one hand, routine is necessary to build a purposeful life, to accomplish our goals and provide ourselves with the structure that in turn gives us the confidence and security to take on all of life’s challenges. Routine helps us to focus our energy on what’s important and battle against the universe’s natural state of chaos.
The need for routine is strong…but I believe it is matched by an equal need to break out of that routine and let the world come rushing in. I think that part of growing up is learning how to do this successfully. Like most people, as I get older and the demands on my time increase, my life has had to become more and more routine-oriented; commuting, work, exercise, and making time for friends and family take up most of my energy. However, I also want very much to feel connected to not just the larger outside world but to history and culture; without that connection, I don’t feel balanced. I am always looking for ways to accomplish this, and finding them, however small, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
Case-in-point: I used to use my hour-long public transit commute to get a jump on my workload, feeling that this would help me be more efficient and allow me more free time at the end of the workday. Yet I found that no matter how much I got done on the train, I was still working just as much as ever. So instead, I now use my commute purely to read for pleasure – history, fiction, biography, whatever catches my fancy, and I make sure to mix it up regularly. This small change has really refreshed and balanced me and makes me feel like a whole person rater than just the end result of my routine.