The alarm goes off, again, at the crack of a weekday morning’s dawn. You wake up and methodically move to the bathroom, then to the closet, then to the kitchen. You clean the same dishes, wipe the same counter, feed the same kids, drive the same route to work, maybe even shoot for the usual parking space in the parking lot. After hanging the same coat on the same hook, you arrange your personal items in their designated spots like you do every morning and put your coffee, the same decaf latte you order every day, in the same place on your desk. And so on… and so on…
As I mentioned in my last post, rituals can be extremely helpful in living a creatively charged life. Rituals, after all, ferry the mind from our grounded existence into the realm of the imagination. But what happens when the daily repetition of our lives progresses into mundane routine?
While creative rituals are charged with meaning and power, routines are simply habits; they don’t require a lot of thought; they don’t spur us to introspection, spark our imagination or fuel our productivity. Habits don’t evoke a single thing. What they do, in fact, is create a feeling of “sameness” that, for me, has always led to boredom and a general sense of dissatisfaction with life. It’s also not always easy to recognize why the feeling is there to begin with. After many years of experiencing this incredibly frustrating predicament, and having recently fought my way back to really “living” my life, here’s what I’ve learned:
Creativity is the spice that flavors our lives. That goes for everyone… artists, office assistants, doctors, stay-at-home-moms and lawyers, alike. We all have dreams and curiosities and it’s easy for our day-to-day responsibilities to overshadow them. We might even dismiss our interests as frivolous luxuries, thinking we have more important things to focus on. But here’s the thing: If you spend every day like a train, never straying from the same track, you’re going to lose sight of your journey and focus only on scheduled stops. You won’t notice the scenery. You’ll end up feeling empty and that has serious, long-term effects. (Having been a resident of “zombie-land” for many years, I can swear to this.) Yet, if you feed your curiosities and passions, not only will you begin to reinvent yourself, you’ll be far more productive IN your day-to-day life. Your responsibilities seem lighter, the day doesn’t seem as long and life is so much sweeter.
No one can create from a vacuum – not art, not a sales pitch, not even a happy home. It’s important to experience life and to get inspired, which means trying new things and changing your perspective once in a while. Jill Hanna once said, “Life is a series of defining moments… it is not the moment that defines us, but the way we choose to live in it.” Our whole life is a series of moments, and I don’t just mean the big ones. Why live life by simply going through the motions? I say, try wearing a new color, tasting a new food, taking a guitar lesson. Tomorrow, why not say good morning to someone you’ve passed a million times on the street but have never met? Learn a new language if it inspires you, whether it has a practical use or not. Shake your life up a bit. And maybe, just maybe, when you stop at the coffee shop on the way to work… try the special once in a while.