A condition of survival
“If you do the same thing every day at the same time for the same length of time, you’ll save yourself from many a sink. Routine is a condition of survival.”
– Flannery O’Connor
One of the most insidiously risky aspects of dealing with chronic illness and frequent hospital trips is the disruption to routine. Since I’m a person who has never much liked the idea of routine, nor been as disciplined about maintaining a set schedule as Jeff is, I had thought maybe this disadvantage would affect him more than it does me.
But I should have realized that he is far better at creating his own internal routine than I am. I’m still floundering a bit, feeling overwhelmed and vaguely anxious. I aspire to the wildly popular British maxim someone unearthed from an old, mostly uncirculated World War II motivational poster: “Keep calm and carry on.” Unfortunately, I have a hard time answering the question: “Carry on…with what exactly?”
It’s not that there is no time available, it’s that I’m unfocused when I do have time, not certain which of many backlogged tasks should be prioritized. Life has been unpredictable lately, and the continual adjustments to our schedule leave me feeling disoriented and tired even when I have little to show for the day.
For now I’m just riding the waves, trying to take it easy on myself and hoping things will stabilize soon. But I’ve learned to have a whole new respect for the value of routine in our lives. Perhaps I’m kidding myself, but I imagine that if and when our lives return to some semblance of normalcy, I will be eager to embrace the structure that has been so intrinsic to Jeff’s life for as long as I’ve known him.
What are your reactions to O’Connor’s quote above? Do you find routine to be boring or beneficial? Exhausting or energizing? Does getting up early make structure and discipline easier? Or are high achievers just naturally morning people who make it look easier for them than it really is? Feel free to offer up any handy hints or life hacks that might help me get back on track.
One year ago today: