Nice to have an opportunity to write again from the comfort of home. The coziness, the company, the chatter, it’s all so refreshingly familiar and reassuring. I have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to take it all in and savor it before my next assignment: flying to Fort Lauderdale, FL for three days. It is in Fort Lauderdale that I will take on part 3 of this Power of Routine series, the actual implementation of the routine and how to handle obstacles.
See at home, the routine is very easy. There’s work of course, but then there’s relaxation and watching DVR shows with my brother. Then martial arts practice. Dinner. Shower. Some video games. Catch up with friends and plan the weekend. Sleep. Not much room to dwell on past regrets or to wander about aimlessly. It’s that purpose and knowledge of what to do and what there is that can be done that is missing from the travel aspect of my life. So the routine I really want to develop is one for travel on the road. How to fit in allowing for some self-indulgences, enjoy good food, exercise, etc. The day starts pretty much the same regardless. You wake up, you do your work. Whether that is a regular 9 to 5 in one place or hopping from store to store and driving in between. You have the regularity of work to provide you with a structure for a good part of the day. It is the afterwards, in the silence and in the dark, that we must define ourselves and our goals. Do you go back to that hotel room. Blame it on the long drive or the jet lag or whatever. Order bad takeout and fall asleep. Never really knowing where you are, where you’ve been, or where you’re going. Do you never take care of yourself mentally and physically. Do you let the mind get stagnant and the body weak and large. Do you succumb to all the pressures and fears that bond you to meekness and regret. Do you let the world pass you by when it finally asks of you, ‘what is it that YOU want to do’. Void of any structure or expectations. How do you tackle freedom.
I feel I should be honest with you for a second here. You need to know, as I know, that a routine is a great tool for structure and for stability. That it is a wonderful instrument in gaining control over one’s life and thoughts. But it is not the end-all be-all. It is not a perfect solution and the process is more than just simply repeating the same activities over and over again.It is about consciousness, mindfulness, and awareness. Your mind and body enjoy the consistency and over time learn to focus for you. There will be times that, struggle as you might, there just aren’t enough things to do in the world to distract you forever. But setting a routine and working through it has two benefits. The first is, as you prepare yourself to face your demons, process that heartbreak, or resolve to chase your dreams, you are keeping yourself healthy and busy. You are still being actively engaged and so like any other muscle, you strengthen your heart and your mind. The second benefit is even when the world knocks you down, you find your legs limp and heavy under the sheer weight of your unhappiness, your routine promises to keep moving you so long as you still believe in it and yourself. A routine is only good if it’s followed through. And it’s only worth following through if you’re still doing so even in the toughest of times. There will be days it just isn’t enough. I know, I’ve had those days, and I know I will have more in the future. Nothing goes your way, or everything reminds you of her. You can’t cherry pick the rest of your life to avoid any remnants of the past. Some days loneliness wins. Some days her words just ring too clearly or too loudly in your ears. It is important in those moments to remember that you are not alone. That you are not lost. Get back on the horse. Do something you love. Commit yourself to what it is you are supposed to be doing. Sometimes a little pain is necessary. It reminds us of what it is we love, want, cherish, miss. It’s the pain that helps to define what we want. Is is the pain of loss. The pain of being replaced. The pain of losing her. The pain of loneliness. How do we deal with each of these different kinds. Work through it.
When all else fails, go back to your routine. Go back to what’s familiar. Go back to what is comfortable and perhaps maybe even comforts you. Don’t lose hope. Just keep going. Tidy up a bit. You have no idea how much more relaxing and recuperative a good night’s rest is especially knowing that your surroundings are neat, tidy, organized. I get a sense of pleasure every time I check into a hotel room. Opening the room for the first time. I know what temp I want my A/C on. I scout a bench to put my shoes under. I slip on some hotel slippers. Toiletries are hung on a hook in the bathroom. Laptop is placed on the desk. Cell phone by the bed. Everything neat. Everything clean. Another important gesture of taking care of oneself. You don’t clean for others. You don’t clean because you have to. You don’t clean because you were told to. I am telling you, promise yourself that you will clean yourself because once again, you are showing that you are someone worth effort and care. And sometimes no one is in more need of that reminder than yourself.
So there you have it. What is for me, the necessary elements of an effective routine, at home or abroad. Remember to enjoy the little things that make you personally happy. Feed yourself more than just what’s good for the body, but good for the soul and the heart too. Take care of your mind and body as an investment in self-worth and future self. Know that there will be obstacles, and days when it is difficult to just get out of bed. Do not fear or avoid these moments. Process them. Understand them. Allow them to let you feel what you need to feel. Then move on. And finally, take care of your surroundings.
I will begin to implement a more purpose driven routine next week on my travels in Florida, and I look forward to seeing how it helps. The road can be a lonely, desolate, and frightening place. Leaving you with just the worst parts of yourself that want to be called up and analyzed and fretted over time and time again. But it doesn’t have to be. And even a little routine can go a long way in enjoying even the spontaneity of life.
Sometimes Man doesn’t win. But that doesn’t mean you lose sight of the next day’s battles.
Man: 13 Loneliness: 4