Routine is an unusual concept. Routine as a thing rather than as a description. I have a routine. I like my routine. I need a routine. I realised this week I have a routine. When it was broken.
I also realised that my routine of significance is daily or weekly. When I am at work, I have meetings scheduled all the time, and yet all sorts of other moments arise and we respond and handle as appropriate. Part of our daily routine is to address unexpected events when, or if, they appear amongst everything else we have planned.
No, I realised last week that I have a bigger routine – my day, each day, at work before my weekends. My days are interjected by coffee, by my exercise bike, by my time at work, by eating, by talking to my family, and by sleep. But each week day is essentially the same.
I get up, drink coffee, exercise, go to work, come home, exercise, eat, talk to my family and then work before I go to bed. I am engaged and inspired by my days. And above all by the people I work with during those days; what we do together and what we aspire to achieve together.
And then my daughter came to stay. My routine dissolved and dissipated. My days during her visit were as beautiful and spontaneous as she is. I did not know I had so many towels, or so little food. I did not know I could run out of hot water, nor mugs for coffee and tea.
I had no time to exercise at all during her visit. I was late to work and early to home. I ate much better and worked much less. I still managed to achieve my daily coffee quota, but I also managed to sleep longer (and better).
We talked and we sat. We told stories and we laughed. I introduced her to friends at work (who we met in a restaurant) and I pointed her in the direction of the best shops.
Whilst she was with me I was in that moment. Enjoying her company and answering her questions. Many of which were about me, and us, and what we are doing. The Big Deal and our new colleagues. She listened intently. She advised me, praised me and helped me. I made her breakfast and tea. I bought her dinner. She broke my daily routine. She gave me love and affection.
And as soon as she left the reality hit me. That moment was gone. She was gone. I knew my feeling was one of loss, but I also knew the only way I could have avoided that loss would have been for her not to have come. It took me a while to put everything away and to dry the towels. I was trying to get back into my routine. I was trying to get back to being comfortable.
So instead I decided to change my routine and stay uncomfortable. I deliberately did some things differently for the remainder of the week and I also did some different things. In and out of work. I felt better. I found I had something else to think about. I also found I thought differently about things.
I know I like routines. I like the consistency and I like not having to think differently about aspects of what I do. I am sure I am not unique in that. But I also wonder that sometimes us changing simple aspects of our routines – self-induced change – could be fun. Would be different. And who knows what it could lead to…