Routine Blues

Posted: July 15, 2010 in Living

Originally in my Wiltshire Blog

We often do crazy things to feel alive. Earlier this week I tried hitchhiking, and met an interesting character on the way.

“The less routine the more life,” wrote Amos Bronson Alcott, a 19th century American teacher.

Routine is undoubtedly important in life. Like all rituals, a daily routine can give a sense of reassurance and order. Without keeping to a routine it would be very difficult to reach goals in life, such as mastering an instrument or excelling at a sport.

But routine can also be stifling. It can make us feel like we exist merely to perform the same set of actions every day. To combat this, I try to break up my routine every now and again by introducing small spontaneous actions.

Earlier this week I hitchhiked for the first time in years. I had been dropped off on the outskirts of Bath and needed to make my way into the centre.

Rather than wait for the bus I decided to ‘thumb a ride’, and stood facing traffic for about 10 minutes before somebody stopped.

I ran up to the car and saw a man in the driver’s seat, frantically taking piles of paperwork off the passenger seat and throwing them in the back of the car, which was already a sea of paper.

After the necessary salutations, we introduced ourselves. Kofi is a doctor on his way to a conference in Dorset. Originally from West Africa, he now lives and works in Manchester.

As the sat nav guided us through the Georgian streets of the city, I learned enough about this man to guess why he would pick up a hitchhiker.

Kofi only works in hospitals for one year before moving on. While he loves what he does, he finds the politics of hospitals so demoralising that he purposefully takes short contracts. Although such a lifestyle is less stable, it affords more freedom, and this is what Kofi really cares about.

I realised that Kofi and I are quite similar. We both value the feeling of freedom, we both need the occasional spontaneous action, and we are both terrible at organising paperwork.

After Kofi dropped me off I felt strangely exhilarated. I didn’t care about having to walk the rest of the way in the rain. I had taken an opportunity for spontaneous living, and had met an interesting person because of it.

Image of Banksy’s ‘Hitchhiker’ couresty of Noodlefish


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