Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reason? Or Just a Rut?


Most of us are most comfortable moving at an even pace through life.  We tend to get up each morning about the same time and head for bed at about the same time each night.  We talk to pretty much the same people day after day, check the same news sources, prefer a certain chair, and early on we establish a set protocol for getting ourselves ready to face each day, then follow a set pattern of beginning our work, checking our mail, getting the kids off to school, exercising for a certain period of time, eating meals, watching the same television shows, catching up on face book, or accomplishing whatever tasks have become part of our daily routine.  We're creatures of habit.

A certain amount of routine saves time and brings order to our lives; but sometimes we're just in a rut.  Long ago a teacher advised a group of us to "live until we die." At first that appears to be a nonsense statement, but in truth, it is quite telling.  What is the point of reducing life to a boring repetition of mundane tasks?  We're alive, but are we living? Each day should bring a new discovery, a different perspective, a new realization.  The scriptures tell us God meant for us to have joy.  There may be peace in following a rut, but not much joy.

When I was about fifteen I lived in a house with a circular traffic pattern.  There was a kitchen, then a dining room, followed by a living room, which opened on my parents' bedroom.  Another door from the bedroom led to a tiny hall where we could go upstairs, exit the back door, or return to the kitchen.  The floors were all linoleum and every few days my mother would mop the kitchen, then the dining room, the living-room, the bedroom, the hall, then carry her mop bucket out the back door to dump it. One day I noticed she started with the bedroom and did the circle in reverse.  When I asked her why, she said she just got tired of doing it the same way all of the time and needed a change, besides she noticed spots that needed more attention by viewing them from a different angle. I've thought about that many times over the years and have come to the conclusion she was right.  Change is good.  Change doesn't always have to be the big life changing events.  Even small changes redirect our perspective and require us to think.

I recommend taking a walk with a small child. There's something about walking with a small child that invites a different view of life as the child notices and is excited about every ant or small creature that crosses the sidewalk or path.  Toddlers investigate flowers, weeds and the neighbor's cat. They notice birds.  The world is new and ready to be explored when a child takes an adult's hand and begins a trek down a path so familiar to the adult that he/she no longer actually sees it.

It's all right to enjoy a particular routine, to be comfortable with an established pattern of life, but it is also a good thing to shake up that routine a little bit from time to time.  Take a different street, try a new shampoo, learn a new dance step, read a different genre or try a new author, get an e-reader, taste a food you hated as a child, run instead of walk somewhere, be early for church, go to a different temple, or just do anything that's a little different from the usual pattern.  You can make the big drastic changes, experiment with the things you've always dreamed of doing.  That's good too, but in the little changes we learn about ourselves and are reminded of the reasons we do things one way instead of another.  We pay closer attention to the things that matter to us.  It's in deviating from a habitual pattern that we discover if there's a reason for the pattern we follow, or if we're just in a rut.

1 comment:

Lizzie said...

Very good post. I need to think about this more often. Thank you for the reminder to not let myself fall into a rut.