I have to admit that I am someone who enjoys the calmness of routine. I like red beans and rice Mondays and taco Tuesdays. I always thought it was cool that my cousin was able to look forward to hamburgers every Saturday. I suppose that it is boring to some people to always know what is coming next, but I have often found such a situation to be very comforting. Perhaps it is because there is always a good share of uncertainty in all of our lives, so clinging to a routine at home feels nice, even if it is just designating a certain day of the week as a time to eat a particular food.
My friends Pat and Bill always had a Thursday night date. They regularly scheduled a babysitter to watch their children and took a few hours each week just to celebrate each other. They might go out to dinner or find a movie to watch. Sometimes they just drove around and talked. They were certain that this routine kept their love and affection for one another alive even through difficult times.
The visits to my grandmother’s house every single Friday night of my childhood kept me going and made me certain that I was never alone. I loved those raucous evenings with my cousins. The sound of my aunts and uncles arguing over poker games in a smoke filled room still make me smile. The vision of my grandmother with her enamel cups of sugary coffee is one of the most wonderful memories that I have.
My mother saw to it that we went to church every single Sunday. The people in our parish were my extended family as far as I was concerned. Many of them are still very much part of my life. I always understood that they were good folks upon who I would be able to count in even the most horrific times.
I suppose that we humans enjoy adventure, but most of us need a bit of order as well. It is a kind of safety net, a way of reminding ourselves that ultimately everything is probably going to be okay. I suspect that the lack of fixed way of doing things is part of the reason that so many are confused and depressed these days. Having to constantly switch gears and adapt to new protocols can be daunting, but in reality doing so is a part of life. Nothing ever stays exactly the same. Those who know how and when it is time to change are the healthy and happy ones among us. It really is possible to be adventurous while clinging to beloved ways of doing things.
I saw a post about a famous athlete who was spotted with a phone that had a cracked screen. When asked why he did not just get another one, given that he earns enough to have almost anything he might want, his answer was that he did not desire his fame and fortune to be used for luxuries that he did not really need. He preferred instead to share his wealth with others who are suffering. He insisted that he was going to continue to follow the frugal ways that he had always lived
I remember reading that Katherine Hepburn lived for most of her adult life in the same small apartment in New York City. She might easily that found a bigger and more modern place, but she saw no reason to do so. She was comfortable and liked her neighbors. Her home was a place of solace for her. She could see no reason to rock the boat just to impress others with her wealth.
As a teacher I found that my students liked a semblance of order in the classroom. They wanted me to list the date, the objectives for the lesson and the homework in the exact same place every day. They liked that I had a designated area for turning in work. They appreciated that I graded papers quickly and gave them an updated average each Monday. They knew what to expect and it brought them a sense of well being. Given that many of them were living in highly dysfunctional conditions at home, my little corner of the school was a kind of refuge for them.
Boring can sometimes be very nice. Schedules provide us with a sense of continuity. The world seems to be spinning off of its axis these days and most of us are weary. So maybe it’s time to find little things that bring us a sense of control. What that is will be different for everyone, but always important. Read that book for an hour each day. Have that meal around the table. Have bedtime routines for everyone. Eat ice cream on Sunday.
We have to take care of ourselves and the people that we love. We may not get what we want, when we want it, for the price we wish to pay, but we might have that little slice of peace. Routine provide us with the patience that we need in these times. Adjust, adapt and then choose something to do regularly that makes you happy.