Less Routine, More Life

A typical American morning:

  • 6:00 AM – Alarm clock goes off.
  • 6:07 AM – Snooze alarm goes off. Stretch, yawn a few times, and sleep-walk to feed the cats.
  • 6:11 AM – Hop in the shower. Lather and rinse.
  • 6:20 AM – Open left eye. Insert contact.  Open right and repeat.
  • 6:22 AM – Pick out the attire for the day.
  • 6:26 AM – Fix instant oatmeal and grab a banana. Scarf it down.
  • 6:35 AM – Brush those pearly whites.
  • 6:38 AM – Fix hair.
  • 6:41 AM – Shave that 5 o’clock shadow.
  • 6:48 AM – Grab jacket and bolt out the door for work.

It’s become  so routine, I could sleepwalk through it. I read a quote today by philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott: “The less of routine, the more of life.” Until recently, I had never heard of this man. Nonetheless, his quote offers a powerful reminder of the dangers of allowing routine to set in. Routine is similar to a slow-killing cancer. Maybe you don’t even notice its symptoms for a long time. Yet, unbeknownst to you, it slowly tears away at your soul.

As time passes, you suddenly feel numb to the world, and you’re left wondering where your passions have drifted away to or whether you ever had any in the first place. Maybe you’re so used to doing as you’re told that you’ve barely tapped into that creativity in years. While you can’t pop a pill to cure this disease, the remedy begins with a shift from accepting societal norms to defying the status quo.

Hike a new trail, eat at a local hole-in-the-wall, write a blog, try a new hobby, explore country roads outside the city, visit a historical location on Saturday, write an old friend, or build a new friendship outside of your normal group. Ideas and creativity will likely be unleashed. As new adventures take over your life, routine becomes even more mundane, fruitless, and intolerable. You discover what I’ve unearthed: life begins where routine is broken.

There Aren’t Any Flat Screens in Nature

Today happens to mark the day of the most-watched event in America each year. With the Super Bowl being played in Dallas’ immaculate $1.2 billion dollar mecca, I am amazed how the fans inside the stadium are bombarded with stimulation left and right – LED boards flashing constantly, advertisements shown left and right, and a supersized jumbtron hanging from one 20-yard line to another. The game in-and-of-itself doesn’t provide enough entertainment anymore.

As I was walking on the trail today, I thought about why we are so afraid of silence and stillness. God, alone, isn’t sufficient for us anymore. We need grand orchestras and flashing lights in church. We need to be in constant contact with friends and family through Facebook, email, and texting.

Maybe we’re afraid to stop and hear God’s voice in the midst of distraction, afraid of what He will reveal to us. Ever thought about why God didn’t put Jumbtrons, flat screens, and constantly flashing lights in nature?

Maybe He created the quiet streams, the rolling hills, and the vast oceans to remind us of His constant presence. Nature is a refuge for us to enjoy, as we break away from the stresses and distractions of life. God desires to speak to us in the quiet moments, if we’ll let him. Spend some time being still before God. Unplug for a while and head outside to a local trail. He doesn’t need LED boards to grab your attention. The beauty and wonder of life become apparent, as we realize how small our worries and lives are in the midst of His creation. So turn off the phone for a couple of hours. It won’t hurt, I promise. Allow your soul to be refreshed in His presence. If you make this simple act into a habit,  you’ll be amazed with the ideas and creativity that flow from your mind, along with a heart renewed.