Routine Exploration…

I love mornings – particularly the sunrise.  That start of a new day – the feeling of a new adventure just beginning – wondering what this day will bring that will be unexpected.  For some reason, I wake on most mornings feeling happy and ready to tackle whatever obstacles I can meet.

Most mornings, those obstacles include the three cats.  Typically, Kaylee will be on top of me, my own fuzzy alarm clock and removable black beard.  Once she’s been reassured that I’ve not died during the night, the trip downstairs will yield Shadow waiting at the bottom of the stairs.  Any stop to acknowledge her presence will send her running behind the couch, where she peers out like a French Resistance fighter spying on a German army armored column.  Through the living room and toward the kitchen, and Gizmo will be found laying on her side – waiting with wary eyes.  Shadow and Gizmo are essentially proclaiming that the food bowls have gone empty during the night.  Before I can start my coffee or do my meditation exercises, I have to feed these two or face a billowing train of three cats until this mission has been completed.  Kaylee – my version of a puppy dog – will follow me everywhere in the house for the rest of the day that I am home.

But the cats aren’t really obstacles.  They are three individually wrapped bundles of love and companionship.  When I go on vacations or overnight trips – its these three that I tend to miss the most.  They are that part of my morning routine that happens regardless of the hour.  If I happen to sleep in…this same routine plays out when I get up.  If I get up earlier…everything remains the same, except wearing Kaylee on my chest.

But its the morning ray of sunshine that starts it all for me.  Seeing the sun start to peek over the rooftops, and watch the light bring the world into focus.  But I remember a time when it wasn’t that way.  When I was in the Air Force, I worked the late night shift…a lot.  The sun coming up didn’t signify the start of the day for me – it was the opposite.  The sun coming up was a notice that it was nearly time for the day to end.  I used to joke that the Air Force turned me into a vampire.  I couldn’t come out when the sun was up.  I could only function in the late evening to the early morning, after the sun had disappeared behind the horizon.  I did everything I could during the night.  And the world was vastly different.  Most of the people I knew got ready for bed right around the time I was wanting lunch.  After I had that meal – I had a lot of free time for myself on those days off.  I read.  I watched movies.  I sat out on the outside walkway in the dorms and listened to the sounds of a military installation in the middle of the night.  And slowly I developed a routine.

I find it interesting that my life has essentially been a series of routines, which are punctuated by moments of unexpected and unplanned events.  Most people become frightened by routine – scared that their life will “be a rut” that they will never be able to climb out of.  But if you change your routine from just the same old tasks to a series of explorations of the world around you – each day that routine becomes something more fun.  Something to look forward to.  Sure, there are things you have to get done…the maintenance chores is what I like to call them.  But once those are done, there’s time to explore the dark woods that are out there…time to read books…time to meet new people.  I use those maintenance chores as an anchor…a way of remembering who I am and where I am to be.  But I make sure that there’s not a ton of them there to bury me and keep me from exploring…

How about you??  Anything you want to explore??  Just remember the way back when you’re done…  “Second star to the right – then straight on until morning…”

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