Moving My Routine From Place To Place

12:34I get up this morning and roll straight into my good old routine. Pretty normal stuff really. Kettle, cereal, and then I settle in to eat while reading my news and email. I’m going to make a fantastic senior citizen. After the news, my thoughts turn to routines and how easily they become part of my day. As a dork that is generally traveling, or thinking about traveling, I find it interesting how I set up routines in the disposable days of a traveler.

Spooning cereal into my mouth like a sugar starved automaton, I consider why I construct routines in most aspects of my life. More specifically, why I have routines at all, and why I always seem to have them. Even when I’m only in a place or situation for a couple days, I quickly fall into little repeated patterns and habits. Fortunately, research has shown that most of us are quite habitual, so I don’t feel too bonkers.

For example, earlier this year I was spending a week in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Nothing fancy, just a week of downtime to relax and look around. In that short week, I had established several routines without even thinking about it. Like clockwork — More imported plastic clockwork than anything Swiss or precision — I would get my breakfast nice and early. Then I had my usual coffee shop that I liked to hit. Followed by a short walk around town. The seagulls down on the old fort walls that overlooked the ocean probably saw me consistently enough that they set their little gull watches by me. We’re not going to talk about which part of my routine involved Ben & Jerry’s either.

Photo by Gregory Kowalski

I suppose I learn a lot about places I visit by having a routine. Seeing specific places each day gives me a context to notice how things change day in and day out. I remember being the only person in my usual San Juan cafe that knew there was going to be a parade that day. I had spotted the change in traffic patterns and the extra civil workers while making my usual walk around town en route to the cafe. Granted my OCD might have helped with that more than the routine. Which now leads me to wonder, are there anti-routine people? Are there people that go out of their way, consciously or otherwise, to not establish routines? I don’t mean anarchists per se, but just people who are disinclined to repeat daily patterns like that.

In thinking about it now, this topic reminds me to get on with my day. I click around, reading the occasional piece of fiction or blog online. Inevitably, this leads me to consider writing something, and I start putting together this post. I’m off now to continue with my daily routine. Which involves a little lunch and a bit of a walk. I presume we take comfort from the safety of a routine. So in search of that comfort we put together routines at any given opportunity. Either way, I’m off to comfort myself with the usual lunch. I’ll see you all at the awards ceremony for most predictable senior citizen in 2038.

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//shawn

ps: What kind of spell check doesn’t know what Puerto Rico is? Does it really think the USA territory is called Puberty Rico? Really?

3 thoughts on “Moving My Routine From Place To Place”

  1. i consciously step out of routines often. for example, i drove a different route to get to work today. there is really no data to establish if this was a longer trip due to changing course, so i just enjoy this different scenery and scoff at a different, yet eerily familiar, light that is red entirely too long. i’ve done these kinds of switch-ups since i was a kid. sometimes i would put salad dressing on my pasta, because tomato sauce had gotten way too predictable.

    however, there are some routines i cannot seem to shake. every morning that i’m at my pathetic office desk, i open my browser to three tabs: gmail, bbc news, and woot. and my after lunch routine has recently become rerunaround. so i guess they are unavoidable after all. regardless, i will continue attempting to thwart routine’s reign of predictability, at least until i join you in the nursing home!

    1. I presume that routines become more and more common the older we get. I took your advice though and broke up my morning routine with a second breakfast of cheesecake. Anarchy!

      I wish I had taken the watch picture when it was at 56 seconds. Sigh.

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