Our first year of marriage was spent getting to know each other, probably because the short two month courtship didn’t give us a clear picture of how we were going to work as a couple. We spent most of the 12 months pushing and pulling, exploring our limits and smashing a lot of collectible salt and pepper shakers (me not John).
One of things we felt strongly about was the ability to be spontaneous. We didn’t want that taken away, both of us feeling it would be a death knell if we somehow lost the ability to be impulsive.
“Promise me that if I stop acting on a whim or stop leaping feet first that you’ll tell me,” I told John.
“Same for me,” he replied. “I don’t want to get into a routine and stop being able to do spontaneous.”
That was 34 years ago. How things have changed. How subtle were those changes.
John is doing a SelfCare lecture at the office on Brain Health. I’m sitting here checking my facebook notifications and reflecting on why I feel out of sorts.
The answer is simple. Routine! I love it, crave it, find it difficult to veer from.
I’m used to both of us sitting in our matching lazy boys, feet up, the dog, once again, pushing toys in our laps waiting for mom or dad to request a trick, before we throw it for him, scrolling through our PVR’d shows from Sunday to Friday nights and binging on Netflix on Saturday.
It isn’t just that he’s away tonight and I’m watching TV alone stitching Christmas presents, it’s that we’ve become so busy that several of our enjoyable routines have been missed because of work or other commitments.
The weekends when we shop naked in Parksville (LOL ask me, you know you want to) and take our lunch to the beach in San Pariel, the dogs running in the sand, Willie finding every perfect stick; walks in the morning with Roxanne, John playing Pickleball on Wednesday, agility on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the peace and quiet of a evening at home, a fire crackling and everyone in our space safe and sound.
Trust me when I say I fought it, railed against it. In my mind, coupling habit and routine with age and senility and losing touch with the present.
But, then I started adding it to my list of gratitudes.
“I am grateful for our weekend drives to Parksville, I am grateful for our quiet evenings watching TV, I am grateful for the morning game of crib.”
It didn’t happen overnight. The change was subtle. It could have come with my advancing years, but then too, it could have been that selective attention again, focusing on how much I enjoyed the anticipation of doing the same thing every week, evening or weekend.
Years ago, when the children were in grade 2 and 4 I wrote an article on Rituals. I don’t know why I did, that memory is long gone. I do know that while researching and then writing it, the idea of traditions and rituals became appealing, so appealing that I tried to implement a few: lighting candles for Hanukkah, inviting strangers to Thanksgiving dinner, writing in our journals first thing in the morning, walking down the ravine to the ocean in the morning, training the dogs after we finished schoolwork and at one point, carrying all the fixings over to Vancouver for Christmas dinner (including the stuffed turkey!)
Perhaps, even then, I subconsciously longed for the security and stability of routine. Unfortunately, my good intentions rarely lasted. John was attending school and then building a practice. I was working at some job(s) or other and homeschooling. Maintaining habits and a routine was hard work.
Now, it’s hard work to go it free style!
“This is our 15th year,” Roxanne said to me this past weekend about our annual trip around Cedar for its artisan craft tour.
On our first trip we spent most of the day visiting the 30 + artisan studios and then taking detours on dead end streets and meandering roads just to see what was down them.
“Look at that house,” I’d say. “Too many trees,” Roxanne would add.” “Over there, the sun shining through the cedars,” one of us would say. “So beautiful,” the other would add.
One year we found an old chair on the side of the road, begging for a photo, so we stopped and took turns taking pictures of ourselves.
This year, there were only 15 studios, five or six that we wanted to see. We reminisced about that first year when Yellow Point Cranberry farm gave out free crepes with whipped cream and cranberry sauce, or when Hazelwood Herb Farm shared delicious samples of herbal blends whipped into breads, sauces and dips. The routine of it all anchors our year, dog ears November for us to ruminate over and anticipate.
The article on Rituals? It was a very popular and well shared article. Unfortunately, not the way I wanted it to be. You see, rituals can also refer to sexual proclivities and fetishes. Type in rituals and up popped my article on every variety of porn site available at the time.
I guess when you think about it, having a routine is pleasurable. Having a predictable path almost, well, orgasmic.