Sometimes you get stuck in routines. And sometimes these routines serve you well. But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you don’t even know what you are yearning. All you know is that it is not the life you are living.
Then sometimes the routines that served you well for years, those that kept equanimity in your lifestyle, no longer work.
Many people are stuck in routines without even knowing why. A man-made clock determines meal times, not the body’s clock saying it is hungry. Morning tea must be at 10am. Lunch is at midday on the dot or heaven forbid.
Saturday mornings are for cleaning house or grocery shopping. Annual leave is at the same time each year. Or if the 7.36 train is five minutes late, the whole day is out of whack.
Things change though. And you change. So rather than resisting the changes, try to go with them. Be flexible, as the same routine that has once served you well will one day also possibly become the routine that leaves you feeling trapped and unfulfilled.
It’s about letting go of the need for total control. I mean. Do you really ever have complete control of your life anyway? No. No one does. You may think you do, then life will through you a curly problem that throws a spanner completely in the works. And you’re suddenly looking for a new solution to an unforeseen predicament.
Focus is great, sure. But with that, flexibility is needed. The greatest rewards in my own life, from new circumstances presenting themselves to unexpectedly seeing long-lost friends, have come about when I remained flexible and open to change.
It is spring in Australia. In this part of the country and further North and West, jacaranda trees are in full bloom. Each year these lovely big trees brighten up towns and neighbourhoods with their delightful lilac bloom, as they are entirely covered in flowers. As the flowers fall, a lilac carpet surrounds their base. They are beautiful and well-loved trees. And for the rest of the year, outside of blooming season, they are considered a reliable shade tree.
It used to be that the first weekend in October, which is a long weekend here, was always the start of jacaranda season. Towns planned festivals and other tourist events around this lilac bloom. But things have changed. The seasons have changed. So they do not always bloom exactly at that time of year anymore. The jacaranda tree outside the cottage here has not yet bloomed at all this year and it is already November. Last year I noticed one blooming in December.
Likewise with the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s biggest horse race. While Melbourne is known for its unpredictable weather, with the race being the first Tuesday in November, it usually means that we are already two months into spring and veering more towards summer heat than winter chill. But it wasn’t just Melbourne that was cold yesterday, when the annual race was held. Frost settled on country more than a thousand kilometres north and racegoers up in New South Wales also donned their jackets and warm coats.
Life changes and to enjoy it best, it is easiest to accept this and remain flexible. Just as the seasons are changing and cannot be counted on to remain the same, so too is life. No outcome the world over is ever guaranteed, except for death and change.
So while routine may serve you well in some capacities, equally so does flexibility. Loosening the restrictions that routines and control create opens you to the more natural flow of life and goodness.
It was so glorious here this morning at sunrise that walking preceded my usual meditation routine. That then came later. When I looked out at first light, the moment was just too perfect to not embrace it then and there. As I walked, the morning came alive with birds singing from all directions, welcoming in this beautiful new day. Lizards ran across the rickety bridge over the creek. And insects got about with their business.
Having a day off mid-week, or catching up with friends for breakfast instead of dinner, or letting your children pick their own clothes to wear regardless of how much you struggle with their creative choice, are all forms of letting go and being flexible.
Flexibility brings surprises and pleasures that can only come about by not being so rigid. So if you are planning on doing your usual thing over the next couple of days, see if you can loosen things up a bit. Ask yourself when else you can do it and choose something different to do then instead. Or don’t choose anything. Just go walking and see how your time unfolds without routine, control and rigidity.
Daring to step out of self-imposed conformity always brings pleasure and rewards. But until you try it, how will you ever know what those pleasures and rewards are?