For many, to discover implies a constant need for change — To have nothing set in stone. At the extreme, such a belief argues that if today bears any resemblance to yesterday, then it has failed. Since I find comfort in my routines, I disagree with such assertions. I believe that having a life of routine has allowed me to constantly discover; rather than limiting me, my routines have allowed me experience things I might have otherwise missed.
First, I will qualify myself — I may be a man of routines, but the world doesn’t always oblige. Some things I have no control over and must, therefore, adapt to as they change — Fickle weather, roller-coaster work, busy family, unruly pets, etc. Still, I do control some things in my life, and they have become routines that frame my every day, providing structure for discovery.
One such routine, and the most illustrative, is my running early in the morning, long before the sun rises. It is something that I have done since college and have done in my current neighborhood for close to a decade. I take the same route every day, never varying; in fact, I have used this route so often that I no longer remember street signs nor the number of blocks — I couldn’t describe my route to you, but there are other things that I can tell you about it.
For instance, I have seen a cornucopia of meteor showers, burning space debris, and even one or two bloody lunar eclipses; plus, I have learned to track certain constellations through the seasons after a decade of seeing the Big Dipper move around from month to month. Beneath the stars, I have been enthralled by an owl pair that hunt around the neighborhood, culling the mice from vacant lots, and have also watched a generation of desert fox as they have grown from pups timidly following their mother to assertive adults staking out their own territories.
Along with such wonders, I can also trace the changes of my neighbors, thanks to the signs that appear on lawns and driveways overnight: I know each birth, death, and 16th Birthday a few hours before everyone else as I push past each house. I also have learned how often our neighborhood is patrolled and have come to quick-wave the three separate officers who patrol here, as well as the guard in front of the gated estates. Each morning, I have the opportunity to see the effects of people’s moving in and out as well as the general change to the area that time always brings.
But none of the above has been some sudden and marked experience — What I have learned about my neighborhood, and grown to both appreciate and anticipate, comes from an almost robotic willingness to do the same morning routine I have done for the last decade … which, ironically enough, has proven not to be static. I experience some new tidbit of change almost every morning … like a well established routine.
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