July 25, 2014

I have spent my life clinging to familiarity. For very good reason: who of us doesn’t, if you think about it? We settle into our routines of action and thought, and then we stay put. Much is said about the process of breaking out of habits—or at least out of unhealthy ones. I’ve heard psychologists speak of the 30-day rule, in that apparently it is supposed to take 30 days to develop a new habit. No doubt this is very dependent upon one’s particular personality type, so far as the exact number goes. But it makes sense to me. My particular pattern is, I think, slightly shorter, perhaps due to a transient life. My frequent moves have made it necessary to learn to adapt quickly, to pretty much anything. This means that I can also very quickly develop new habits, based upon what my present locale demands of me [or at least what my brain perceives it to demand]. Maybe my magic number is something closer to half that, if I have to make a guess about a number?
Frankly, I think that routines and habits are quite normal—even healthy. Because why do we develop them to begin with if it is not due to a need we have for them? I think we are wired to evaluate our situations and surroundings, and then to figure out what works. So the habits we end up with are based upon what we do that works, or seems to, considering those factors. We land somewhere, be it in a physical place or a mental one. We survey our surroundings, again physical or otherwise. We see a need to get out of our “out of place”-ness, and so come up with a way to settle. We determine if it seems to work or not. If it does not, we try something else; if it does, we stick with it.
Back to the changing of habits, and to why I am thinking about this now: I have just returned to my home-away-from-home, after a summer away. And after this summer more than most others, there is more of a need for reevaluating—and for redeveloping routines. At least I assume that I will. Having never entered into marriage before, however, I can only guess as to what sort of personal changes will come. Time will, no doubt, tell.
For now, though, it seems to be enough to just be here, safely. The last few days of our travel were, to say the least, unpleasant. We were both brought to the edge, and over it, of our limits of patience with unexpected hassles. To be stranded and stuck in parts of the world unfamiliar [unsafe, even] to us was not an ideal way to honeymoon. But we made it, as people do. And now we are in our first two days moving and settling into our new home here.
I am grateful that we made the decision to arrive with extra time to do so [rather than my old habit of arriving the day before work began again].
Mind you, it was not a completely un work-related decision: I actually came in order to help with a children’s program. This has been a wild venture for the past two days: one that was out of my comfort zone initially, so far as location, transportation, and newness of the whole place goes. But it did not take long at all to decide that I was loving it. In my own little portion of the universe, it can’t get much better than to spend a day singing and dancing with children :-) Each of the past two days I have been in charge of a particular country program, coming up with four sections for the day: an arts/crafts activity, a cooking demonstration, a game, and an educational presentation. Yesterday was France and today Zambia. Yesterday I returned home spent, and “done.” But today, having gotten a bit into the swing of things, my tiredness led instead to an energized excitement over it all. There’s a melancholy along with it as well, having to do with the temporary nature of this gig. They will welcome me back, I think, for future volunteer sessions; but I suspect that the beginning of the school year will severely limit the amount of time I can spend doing so. I must, I suppose, resign myself to it being valuable in its transitory-ness . . . perhaps as a way to extend myself in service when I would otherwise be tempted to wallow in anxiety over the challenges to come in this year of work, and of life. The challenges will no doubt come. For now, however, I can smile at the sight of 60 pairs of little fingers writing the characters and letters for “Zambia” on their passport, knowing that a window in their minds has been cracked open. Ever so slightly for now. But who knows what sights, sounds, and senses that crack will awaken in future minds and souls?

One Response to “routine”

  1. Lugar and Company said

    Dear Anna, what great thoughts spread across the table in the good, bad and ugly but so glad that you are there “safely.” It sounds like your honeymoon story could rivel the most adverterous of them all! I’m soooo thrilled for you!

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