Writer’s note: This piece evolved from a train of thought that may or may not have spiraled off the tracks while I was stranded overnight in Washington Reagan International Airport a few weeks ago. I was still in Belize clothes—fishing pants and flip-flops—and spent the night napping on top of a heating vent, curled around my Pelican case while sleet came down outside. I was exhausted and sick and, yet found it an oddly good experience. Sometimes you are tired and happy and know the assignment is finished and life is good, despite peculiar circumstances.
At any rate, the words below evolved from that mental train of thought, and solidified once I made it back to Vermont and began to look around. Take it for what it is: a bit of a rant, an exercise in mindless writing, a modicum of soul cleansing.
Office spaces in odd places. Grand Slam Bar, El Pescador, Belize.
They say routine is settling, comforting. It’s the rhythm of life, day in and day out; the soothing familiarities of a smooth life. A dependable schedule, being able to plan your life out months at a time, perhaps even years.
Being able to book a plane ticket six months out and knowing which airport you’ll be flying out of.
Familiarity with the aisles at the grocery store—no more wandering around on a mission for coconut milk and soba noodles.
Having a favorite drink at the local pub and knowing when to go to avoid the crowds.
Routine is comforting. It’s also numbing.
Too much of a routine means questions stop being asked. Problems cease to be approached from different directions—this worked the last time, why bother changing something that isn’t broken? “Normal” is comfortable. It’s familiar.
We can become numb, complacent. Why bother stretching ourselves when the here and now is just fine?
Go. Change the routine. Go for a hike. Get in the car and drive to a place you’ve never been, even if it’s just the next town. Hop a plane and explore a culture you’ve never seen.
I promise it will be worth it.
It will be uncomfortable. Unsettling. You’ll see things maybe you wish you hadn’t, and hear even more. You’ll have to think on your feet and lose the fear of moving—if you’re mot moving, you are standing still, and what, dear friend, is the point of living if you are standing still?
Go. Explore. Get your hands dirty. Learn. Seek. Experience.
And, you know what, you’ll find that “normal” becomes an entirely new state. The trivial ceases to matter. Your scope is broader, and priorities have shifted. You’ll discover those people far away from your routine—be they in the next county or the next continent—they are pretty damn similar to you.
Living their own routine.
So get out.