Ever have a period when non-stop change is getting thrown at you? Nothing will hold still, it seems, everything is in a tearing hurry to take a new and unfamiliar shape, like runny custard mix that wants to mould to any corner into which it can reach, regardless of the final aesthetic.
At such times, I find myself relying on the mundane elements of my routine to hold my steadiness.
Boring, tedious activities become lifesavers. Waking up at the same time in the morning and going to bed at the same time gives a clear, structured beginning and end to a day that otherwise is slipshod. Brewing coffee from the same broken machine with no handle, I feel a comfort in wrapping a kitchen towel around the hot base and gingerly pouring out the brown gold into the cup. As I revisit the fear of scalding myself, it weirdly brings back a sense of normalcy.
The routine is not always pleasant, but the repetitive act is comforting. For instance, the daily, internal tussle when sitting is far from easy: my adamant mind regularly plays a skittish game of hide and seek until it finally, eventually, does settle into calm. There is something reassuring about this dance and that it will be there when I come to sit. Similarly, there is relief in the feeling of strength and tautness that comes after a series of high intensity workouts over many consecutive days, as challenging as they are at the time of going through them. Likewise the satisfaction of eking out a sentence to add to the unfinished book after long, tortuous sessions of seeming unproductivity. These habits have become ingrained in me so that skipping them feels utterly wrong.
It is the familiarity of the experience that brings balance, like side rails that one holds on to when a boat is keeling. During times of change, I don’t need a new, more powerful antidote that can restore balance and steadiness. Rather, I need to hold on to my familiar, banal routine to steer me through the strange, choppy waters.