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Nothing is Routine

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Writer admin Date25 Jul 2006 Read10,428 Comment0


One of the thrills of being a young adult is that everything is a first-time experience. My first real job I bounded to with enthusiasm. My first short haircut and manicure felt amazing. My first true love, first kiss, first skinny-dipping in a mountain lake on a summer’s night—every experience was new and fresh.
Now I’m 27, and some things have ceased to be so new. I once found, upon graduating from college, that cooking my own dinners was exciting. That faded after a few years and eventually the thought of toasting bread, spreading peanut butter, and eating a sandwich seemed to be such a burden that I would simply forego eating altogether. When I considered that in the near future I’d be making real meals for my kids for another twenty years, I despaired at the bleakness of it.
Already, in my mid-20s, I was getting bored by routine matters. Another making of the bed. Another putting on of the socks. Another damn washing of the dishes. I could feel myself going numb, losing that freshness I felt when I was younger.
Then it hit me: I would be doing these things for the rest of my life. Even if I had servants to do things I didn’t like, I would still have other matters, such as brushing my teeth and peeing. Nobody could do that for me. I faced the fact that at least 70% of my time would be dedicated to things that had absolutely no long-range purpose or greater meaning but were simply done for survival. Bummer!
Then I began to think about it. What if one day I found out that it was my very last day to put on my socks, brush my teeth and wash the dishes? Wouldn’t washing the dishes suddenly seem like an incredibly precious act? To enjoy the warm water, the bubbles on my hands, observing the artistry of the bowl, remembering when I bought it at a garage sale, marveling at the sunlight hitting the drying dishes and splashing across the walls...To really experience that moment of washing the dishes, knowing it was the very last time I could do it, felt profound, life giving, and joyful. Rather than getting high off of obvious first-time experiences, I considered how to awaken to each seemingly insignificant moment as the last.
 From there, I began examining supposed routines with full attention to my actual experience. I discovered that there are worlds of variation in what seems to be mere repetition. When I bring my mind into the present moment of what I am doing, I find there is as much freshness and newness to the experience as my first kiss. There are marvelous worlds of beauty, motion, sound, creation, existence, and passing away in the smallest of sensations. I discovered there is no need to become numb to life simply because of habits.
If you bring yourself fully into the present moment, observing with fascination and attention everything about it, you will find, I believe, that nothing is routine.

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