Sometimes I am so comfortable in my routine that I get physical anxiety when I’m about to do anything out of the ordinary.
Sometimes I am so comfortable in my routine that I get used to things no human should ever be “used” to.
Like a cluttered kitchen. Piles of laundry. A non-functioning garage door opener.
And other things.
Like a boring social life. Subpar physical fitness. A messy spiritual life.
Is that routine? I might call it a rut.
You can almost trick yourself into thinking it’s okay. It was one of my favorite things about being married. Accountability.
Accountability motivates me to exercise. To keep my life in order. To quickly and efficiently take care of things that need tended to.
After some emotional ups and downs (mostly downs) following my divorce last year, I have found myself in something of a rut for many months.
A mostly uneventful life full of disorganization and a complete lack of fulfillment in every imaginable area.
Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s some psychological condition that makes me crave routine even when the routine is shitty, simply because it feels “safe.”
The only way to break the cycle is to do something different.
The Reset Button
My parents divorced before my fifth birthday and lived 500 miles apart from each other. I lived with my mom in Ohio and visited my dad in Illinois throughout my school breaks.
It was like having two lives. Two very distinct lives where things felt and were different in both places.
I was in school. Changing teachers. Changing classrooms. Playing sports. Growing. Learning.
I was surrounded by friends every day and experiencing all of the growing pains school children do.
But more than that, I was always experiencing huge changes in scenery.
I was always hitting the reset button. Each school break. Each new semester. Each new year.
Minus the long-distance, back-and-forth parent thing, I suspect most of us felt this way during our school years.
The rhythm of life, full of constant change.
Then adulthood comes.
I’m not sure when. People say 18. Especially 18 year olds. But we all know that’s not true.
I felt like an adult when I moved away to college. But I wasn’t.
I felt like an adult when I was put in charge of my college newspaper. But I wasn’t.
I felt like an adult when I moved a thousand miles away from everything I ever knew and loved after graduating and getting my first news reporting job. But I wasn’t.
Surely I was an adult when I got married at 25. When I bought my first house a year or so later.
But it doesn’t seem that way now.
I think our thirties—on paper—are our best years. I describe it as being the best combination of having youth and money. I hope most people feel that way and are living accordingly.
That’s not how it worked out for me.
All of the really shitty things that have happened to me in my life happened after turning 30. And now five years later, it’s hard for me to remember what it felt like when everything was good.
And that’s got me thinking that maybe there’s no age that grants us adulthood.
That it’s more a right of passage that comes about when life starts throwing challenges your way and there’s no one there to save you anymore.
For some people, that happens as children.
For others, it never happens.
For me, I’m still in the transition. Right now. Still trying to figure it all out.
Still learning how to save myself.
Still climbing toward adulthood.
I took my first non-family visit trip in more than two years this past week. A nice trip west to Reno, Nev. with a visit to Lake Tahoe in northern California sprinkled in there. I had never been there before.
I liked both places very much for different reasons.
The important part is that it was somewhere different. It was something different.
A gorgeous hotel room for a week. Reminding me to get my house in order.
A great week at the poker tables. Reminding me to reconnect with a passion from my past.
A week outside the monotony of my daily life. Reminding me to live.
Because I forget sometimes.
I forget to live.
By not inviting friends over. By not getting out and meeting people. By not engaging in outdoor activities I love. By not trying enough new things.
By not writing.
I’m a creature of habit. I think many people are. Especially men.
But I think living can be a habit, too. And breaking the habit of not doing so has to be a priority.
I think the rut—the cycle of monotony we often find ourselves in—can be replaced by the rhythm of life.
It all starts by choosing to do something different.
Maybe just one little thing.
Maybe even right now.
To really feel alive.
To break the cycle.