Each morning I now delight in making coffee in my stove top coffee pot, an unexpected gift which has delivered into my life not just fresh coffee but a fresh routine. In an age where immediate gratification is demanded and not only the coffee is instant, routine has become an unwelcome word, something to be endured which consumes our precious time and keeps us from more engaging activity.
We associate routine with the ordinary, the familiar and commonplace. We often perceive and experience it as boring and tedious and try to complete such tasks as quickly as possible. And in busy lives there is a necessity to undertake them speedily, routine is essential for simple survival. But through the mundane nature of our toils we may discover something of ourselves. Routine is the practice of a skill which had to be courted and apprenticed, the harvest of which is the application of confident ability that enables our lives to operate like a well oiled machine. We undertake our task in the hope that it will take us to a place, some anticipated horizon, where our endeavours may be witnessed, acknowledged and the fruit of our labours enjoyed.
But there is another more intrinsic value to routine. It supports our emotional well being, our need for a reliable framework on which to hang our daily life. In times of stress we turn to an activity like ‘putting the kettle on’, the familiar routine distracts, comforts and soothes. When all around is chaos, routine provides us with a sense of control. Even those lucky enough to be released from the quotidian of formal work will establish new routines, the joy of freedom soon gives way to the need for an habitual guide to stabilize our life. The polarities of the routine and the extraordinary support each other and both are necessary to balance the scales of well-being.
The next time routine fatigue sets in, remember that it serves us well – it certainly serves exceedingly good coffee!