Tag: Routine

Repetition is not boring, not really

I often have weird thoughts while driving in the morning to the Wolverhampton School of Art. Perhaps I should rename this blog ‘Weird Thoughts I Have on the M54’. Today’s weird thought happened on the M54 and it was about how repetitious and dull life can seem, yet in fact it isn’t.

The M54

Driving to Wolverhampton earlier today I pondered my daily routine: wake up at 7am, eat a piece of orange chocolate, drink coffee, pick up my phone, scroll through facebook for 10 minutes, read for 10 minutes, go to the toilet, get dressed, wake children up, make breakfast, listen to my favourite music of the month, make a packed lunch, sit and scroll through Facebook a bit more, put makeup on, brush teeth, read in my pink chair for 10 minutes, gather children, scroll through Facebook while they get ready, take them to school, scoot home, drive to Wolverhampton, park, get coffee, go to studio…

I could go on, and this routine can be repeated, with small variations, for almost every week day. It feels as if it won’t change. It feels as if it will never end. It feels as if it is here to stay. I know I will do the same next week. I will also do the same next month, and even next year. However, if I transport myself 13 years ago, my routine was vastly different. It’s difficult even to see a gradual change from then to now. My routine then was as follows:

Wake up at 5am with cranky baby, feed cranky baby, put cranky baby to bed, go back to sleep, wake up when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby, take cranky baby to toddler group, feed cranky baby, return home, put cranky baby to bed, eat lunch, go out when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby…

As you can see, this routine is very different to my current one (and notice, no mention of Facebook).  The routine above, somehow, morphed into my current routine. Of course the obvious thing to point out are that the cranky baby grew. What’s more, he was joined by two more, who also grew. Then as they all gradually grew, I found a new purpose in life: art in Wolverhampton, and work. I moved house. I changed. I became different. I became the current me.

I can’t quite imagine how my current routine will change into something new in 14 years from now, even though I know it will. It has to. Life does change, gradually. And I have to keep positive, for all the mundanity of my routine now, I do actually quite enjoy certain aspects of it and I know that I will look back in 14 years from now and miss the eight-year-old world view my eight year old has now, the jolly ride up and down the M54, the ladies in the Starbucks on campus who know my name and most of all my little studio space in room MK711 which is my ‘man cave’.

My man cave

So I should stop resenting routine, and embrace it, and capture it in my mind, if that is possible, before it has morphed and changed into something else, even if that something else is better.

Why do I always stand in the same place at Zumba?

I’ve now been going to Zumba for nearly three years. It is part of my Monday evening routine. And since I’ve been going I’ve stayed in more-or-less the same spot. I think I used to be further back than I am now. So I may have edged forward over the months. But for some reason I like to be in the same spot every week and that is just off centre slightly to the left.

There's me, in the middle to the left

There’s me, in the middle to the left

One Monday, about 18 months ago, a woman politely asked me if I’d mind swapping places with her so she could be next to her friend. Being the nice (or unassertive) person that I am I heartily agreed to her request without a pause. Afterwards as I took her old position (further to the left and near the back) I regretted my hurried reply. I even started to dislike this woman. How dare she? How dare she take my spot? Did she not realise how much I love routine? Why did she want to be by her friend? It wasn’t as if they’d be chatting! How rude! I became angry with her.

Then I started to worry that she’d be back the following week and would assume that my spot would be her ‘spot’. I could have kicked myself for throwing away my spot so readily. But I also felt cross with myself for being so silly and for also finding it difficult to deal with change.

The good news is that that lady didn’t go back every week and I managed to return to my spot the following Monday. Phew.

Is being a lover of routine a bad thing? I have so many routines and rituals in my life, just like my need to stand in the same place at Zumba. If I don’t eat meals regularly I get jittery. If I go to bed later than 11pm then anxiety may follow. If we run out of cheese I am throw into a complete state of nervousness. Perhaps routine is just a way to avoid this unpleasant feeling of anxiety and uncertainty. Or is it the need to have a control over my life that is driving my love of routine? Perhaps there are some people who thrive on uncertainty? Routine can be boring.

Was Paul Auster right in saying: ‘Failure is measured by the number of routines you have’? Am I missing possible adventures and experiences by sticking to my routine?

This man dislikes routine

This man dislikes routine

So perhaps I should stand in the far right-hand corner next Monday at Zumba. The thought makes me shudder but it might lead me to new adventures if I do.