To be honest, I hate routine, but I require it in order to function. Not the sort of routine where I wake up one day and find I’ve been working in the same building for 25 years. I’m not that stable, but I do require the daily rituals of coffee, making the bed, exercising, and facing whatever I have to tackle for the day.
For repeated chores, I tend to figure out a method, a starting place and then establish a pattern so my brain can record what I do for the future. I hated memory work in school for I felt it was simply one more task to keep me busy until the next assignment. I suppose one might say I’ve memorized my routines, but however I’ve adopted them, I need the rituals and repetition in order to keep me on track.
I love the unusual, what’s new, trying something I’ve never done before, and embracing the unexpected. We can find new adventure at any age, but routine keeps me grounded. One of our recent visitors remarked that I have so many rules, as if rules are restrictions. I disagree; some semblance of order is what’s holding everything together.
I’m enjoying Stephen Hawking’s PBS show Genius, and one of the episodes that spoke to me concerns the laws of the universe. Are they fixed or do we have free will? You’ll have to watch the episode to get all of the quantum possibilities, but I feel better in knowing that while certain parts are fixed, the lower levels of the universe have some give and take.
Guests have asked me why I make lists and plan activities. My cousin’s answer is best: “This (what you see before you) doesn’t just happen.” I love spontaneity—if it’s planned. Better yet, I love for things to appear spontaneous though this can only be achieved through preparation. Even reality TV gets a rehearsal, the scene is planned and the outcome is edited. Home alone I eat whenever I get hungry, but feeding several people anticipating a good meal requires planning.
I take comfort in thinking things through and figuring out possible alternatives if the best laid plans go awry. We’ve had a lot of visitors this year, and while there is much to see and experience, there are only so many hours and miles in a single day. Why can’t we hike the falls, see a volcano, go to Powell’s Books, eat at a food cart, see some roses, have a late lunch, walk along the river and bungee jump? Because there are hours and miles between these activities. You have to make a plan and understand that something will have to wait even though there are 16 hours of daylight in the summer. Then I hear, “You have so many rules.”
I didn’t invent this thing we call time, and thanks to Stephen Hawking bringing it to my attention, there are universal laws and rhythms I can’t control. I didn’t place a majestic waterfall in one county and a volcanic observatory in another with curvy roads and slow drivers between the two just to be frustrating.
According to Stephen Hawking, our brains make some sort of change before we consciously decide to act on something. He posits that it indicates preordination where all things have already been decided. Through tests, and again you’ll have to watch the show, there are theories of alternative universes where we exist after having made different choices. I’m trying to wrap my head around this concept even though it could be possible in a truly infinite, ever-expanding universe. As one of the volunteer scientists states, “Everything I’ve decided or chosen has brought me to this point.”
Perhaps somewhere, sometime, in another world, I’m less organized, somewhat chaotic and not as much of a planner. I can only imagine that particular mess and what he has let slide. Thankfully I’m here in a place where I’m comfortably holding the reins.
© 2016 by Patrick Brown
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