Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Routine


It is 8:45 a.m., and I am just sitting down for my morning coffee and chocolate donut, having a bit earlier had my glass of V8 juice, listening to a classical music station and trying to come up with a subject for tomorrow’s blog. I’m also wondering yet again why I do the same thing in the same order every day. I decide not to pursue that line of thought, since a little directional arrow in my head indicates that such pondering leads puts me on the edge of a downward slope, which I would prefer avoiding.

So, as often happens on mornings like this, I cast myself upon what is called the “Stream of Consciousness.” From what I’ve been able to gather, for most people it’s rather like a leisurely float on an inner-tube, gliding beneath a bright blue, cloud-dappled sky through grassy pastures where there is ample time to pause here and there to contemplate the scenery. Alas, my stream of consciousness tends to be more like a kayak ride through high, narrow, boulder-filled gorges where the looking up at the sky is seldom an option, since I have to alternately hang on for dear life or grab wildly at thoughts as they rush past with dizzying speed. As a result, when it comes to blogs, I don’t pick the subject so much as having one just sort of jump out of the water and land in my lap.

We are all creatures of habit, taking comfort in the familiar. The very real problem for me is that I tend to be so comfortable in my routine that I mildly resent any change in it.. There are so many things I really should do; places I should go, people I should visit. I have a storage shed full of papers I am planning to give to my alma mater, and all I have to do is drive up there, get them (though I fear I won’t be able to do it in one trip), and take it down to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. I’ve been meaning to do it for six years now, and I haven’t done it yet.

The fact that my family is the very foundation of my life, and that they are the most important people in my life should dictate that I’d want to spend as much time as possible with them. But I don’t. I tell myself it's because they live some distance away, though that is a pretty indefensible excuse. The fact is that I do not because then I am forced to realize that the avalanche of time is pushing me ever more surely toward the precipice. The recent death of a cousin both tore me out of my routine, making me even more aware of why I treasure it, and forced me to have an uncomfortable confrontation with reality. Having the chance to see my remaining family was both wonderful and disconcerting: wonderful because, as I said, they are the foundation of my life; disconcerting because I do not like being forced to realize that things are no longer as I have them firmly planted in my head and heart. In many ways, reality terrifies me, especially those realities which are closest to me. Better to not see my family and keep them as they are in my mind.

I know, I know. I’ve never claimed to be like or to see things the same way as other people and were I to have Robert Burns’ desired ability “t'see ourselves as ithers see us” I’m sure I would be appalled. Were I to be schizophrenic and given to hearing voices, I’m sure at least one would say, “Roger, you can’t live this way! You cannot pick and choose when it comes to reality!”

I beg to differ.

Routine (yes, I do remember that’s where I started this entry) provides me with something of a security blanket or a good luck charm. I can use it as a home base from which I can let my mind and my fantasies and my irrationalities wander at will. It can be something of a prison, but it is a comfortable one, and the bars are wide enough apart that my mind and heart can come and go as they please.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1).



2 comments:

Lloyd Meeker said...

I believe that some routine helps keep a writer grounded. When our internal process is as you describe -- like a kayak in white water, it's nice to know that the stream of consciousness has a shore when I need it!

Kage Alan said...

Alright, I'll admit that your blog post was all too familiar for me. I nest. I develop routines. And when I'm on vacation, I stick as close to those routines as humanly possible, which is really stupid.

There's no reason for me to be in bed by 10 or 11 at the latest. There's no reason to keep specific food habits. But...I do. It tends to make going overseas a bit awkward, too.

And traveling to do book signings? Totally outside my routine, which frequently sends me to the bathroom due to nerves.