Every summer, for about a week or so, my routine is in flux. I still get up early to read, but my writing, eating, exercising and thoughts are like a juggler who has lost his rhythm, like he's been startled and just threw all the bowling pins up at one time. A catches a few, but most of them end up smashing and bouncing on the floor.
Routines are funny. They can feed creativity, allow our brains to relax and conserve energy for when we need them most, and they can create schedules that ensure everything we need and want to get done, gets done.
But they can also destroy. Marriages that fall into routine lose their fire and drive and, eventually, each other. Teachers who live for routine get a tone of shit done but can often become stagnate and shallow in their efficiency. Drivers tend to checkout and neglect to look around, stop appropriately, or follow the speed limit, especially when they're within a mile from home.
The more we live in habit, the less we think.
"Premeditating a reward." I love that because, for things like marriage, teaching, and life, the reward may be something as simple as losing weight, but, and more importantly, it could also be something much bigger, much greater, like renewing and growing and strengthening love and passion and commitment to loved ones, discovering new ideas and passions or sometimes even friends.
Simply changing the routine of where we eat or when we eat will bring new faces into our lives, which in turn creates new discussions and invites new ideas, which will inevitably change our lives. Because our brains can't shut down when we're exercising new habits, they have to be fully and completely engaged. Which is why we don't do them, because they're hard and uncomfortable and exhausting. Because they require work.
My daily routine of reading in the morning (with two cups of coffee), walking to work (listening to half a podcast), prepping for the day, teaching, writing during lunch, then exercising after school is broken, and it's killing me. But it's also growing me.
Because I'm home, working on a project outside my normal routine, I've interacted with my neighbor more (which I've wanted to do since we moved in), met a few people at the hardware store because I don't know where everything is and can't move swiftly and seamlessly through the aisles, and been able to work and talk with a friend about growing up and parenting that we have never talked about because they never had any reason to come up. All because of broken routine and a change of habit.
Routines and habits create efficiency, but they can also produce complacency, which might be the worst kind of marriaging, teaching, parenting, and living.