Habit, routines, and rituals: coffee in the morning, the nightly walk before bed, a noon-time Saturday call to a friend — these are the fabric of our lives, the simple pleasures that are the structure onto which we put our larger creative and emotional endeavors. Consistency and the systems that we create to hold it are essential for so much of our lives. We don’t want to be reinventing the wheel every day, as that would quickly exhaust our decision-making capacity. Creative people actually tend to have very regular daily routines. We only get a certain quotient of good decisions every day. For some parts of our lives, phoning it in is a positive, allowing us the bandwidth to apply ourselves to the stuff that matters.
Lucky for us, we can adjust our schedules in a way that robots can’t. We have, if we choose to, the ability to change things up. Absolute rigidity to any system brings us to the level of a Roomba, bouncing helplessly in the corner of a room. Total adherence to schedule and routine is terribly boring. We have brains, and the ability to adapt — so that once a week staying out late with friends and being sleepy the next day is a trade I am willing to make. I am less willing to have a randomized morning several days a week, as I would rather spend my adaption energies on more important tasks than trying to invent a new creative take on breakfast.
Routine is mostly our friend; a rut is to be feared. The inability to examine new circumstances, to take on new challenges or even new information is a hallmark of fossilization and a sure road to irrelevance. Our lives are a stack of experiences, all contributing to who we are now. As we have all accumulated a hearty experience stack by this time, the danger we face is one of stasis, not wanting or willing to add to the stack with novel experiences. Beware of this impulse — it comes from fear and laziness. Not that we have to, as Rimbaud wrote, be absolutely modern, but we need to be of our time, as well as of our past; that is where our unique power comes from. Routine, habit and rituals — when used as a structure to build upon, rather than an immovable edict, can be awesomely helpful. We get to decide how and when to use them.
Onward and upward,