On most Wednesdays around 5:30am when I turn into the parking lot for the strip mall where my boxing gym is located, there is a pickup truck parked diagonally near the entrance, engine running and lights on. I assume he or she is waiting for someone; perhaps it’s a carpool-to-work arrangement. Even though the truck is the only vehicle on that whole side of the parking lot I always go around it the long way instead of turning in front of it to get to my parking space five stores down. I’m not sure why, but it’s become a compulsion. Every week there’s a split second in which I think, “I should turn in front of him today”…and then I don’t.
Having a compulsion or being a creature of habit; it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. Whatever you call it, this type of thing makes me think of “Groundhog Day” of course, or Jim Carrey’s Truman Burbank in “The Truman Show,” living his daily life in completely predictable ways (well, until that spotlight falls out of the sky… go watch the movie).
Historically I have not been the type of person that welcomes and embraces change. I like my little routines; I enjoy the feeling of control I have when things operate as “normal.” Or, I did.
Moving from Chicago to Knoxville almost three years ago completely rocked my world and since then, I’ve been much better about going with the flow and shrugging at the idea of something being different, a pretty amazing feat for a creature of habit (err, or a compulsive person) like me. Honestly! Ask Jim and my closest friends! They’ll vouch for me here. Having a routine is great but I’ve found that the days all tend to blend together when variety is missing.
This past Wednesday I saw that pickup truck sitting there and, you guessed it, drove in front of it instead of behind it to get to my parking space five stores down. It was the tiniest change and a micro-victory, but it got my day started on a different note. I started thinking about all the ways we—I’m speaking for all of us; hope you don’t mind—just go through the motions of our day without a lot of thought. Whether we do that because we’re busy or overwhelmed or bored or too focused on just getting through it all so we can make it to bedtime or whatever other reason, it’s a bad idea. Life is too short. Time flies. Why do we waste so much time by not living in the moment, with purpose and intention?
Lately my focus has changed from getting all the things on a to-do list done without fail to living a mostly list-free life and being open to change, surprises, and even magic. It looks like sitting down on the couch to watch television without trying to get a task done at the same time, giving the kitchen a good cleaning in the morning instead of the afternoon when I would normally do it, doing a different workout from the one that’s on my calendar, changing the bed sheets on a weekday instead of waiting for the weekend, and countless other little tweaks I can make in my day. Those kinds of changes often lead to really fun ones, like leaving the gym to get a smoothie instead of going straight home, taking a power nap when my body tells me I need it, going out to dinner instead of cooking what I had planned, and calling a friend instead of texting. These aren’t big things, but making room for them allows me to be more aware of the simple pleasures that are there for the taking every single day.
When was the last time you changed things up? If you don’t have any idea, do yourself a favor and make one little, itty bitty change TODAY. You won’t regret it; I promise.
(Pictured above: “The Truman House” in Seaside, Florida)