I think I’ve done something foolish. Several weeks ago, I popped an old mix into my stereo that I listen to anytime I need a study break. As it was one of my favorite mixes, beginning with U2 and Midnight Oil and ending with Tom Petty and The Supremes, I thought it would provide me with at least a few collective hours of relaxation. And it did.
After listening for a little while, I’d feel re-charged and I could resume reading. But then a problem arose.
Pretty soon I didn’t enjoy the mix anymore. The whole collection sounded tired and I lost interest in hearing about Bono’s search for whatever he was looking for and Diana Ross’s disinclination to hurry love.
I knew it couldn’t be the music itself that was boring – I liked and still like all those songs for a reason. It was my own fault. I had driven myself into a musical rut and had learned what to expect from every song.
This got me thinking about how we create such situations for ourselves in all our daily activities. Routines can be very helpful – they give us a sense of context and they help us organize our priorities.
But when routines become mindless habits, we forget to involve ourselves in different, engaging experiences.
This may not seem so important in college, but it will twenty years from now when even our mid-life crises aren’t entertaining.
It may not even be easy to remedy in college, with our many obligations and duties, but anyone can shake things up a bit almost anywhere.
The best example I can think of is also the most basic, which is why it will (hopefully) prove my point.
After years of sleeping in a pretty nice dog kennel in my parents’ room, my dog decided to break out early this summer.
After waiting for my parents to fall asleep and unaware that I was watching him, he quietly pushed open the kennel door and slowly stepped towards the hallway, gently pressing his pawpads into the carpet so as not to wake the folks with his rattling dogtags.
Having successfully navigated his way out of their room, he would have continued on to the family room if he hadn’t seen me and realized that he had an audience. His tail sank and he started to cower, no doubt afraid that I would make him return.
But I encouraged him to march on and he did. He’s been sleeping in a different room every night since, and he’s been a happier and more dynamic creature for the experience.
Certainly you can think of something more sophisticated than my dog’s example, but the point is that you don’t need to.
As long as we all do something – anything – to add some flavor to our occasionally habit-ridden lives, we’ll be making a good effort. So have an adventure, on any level, and be sure to enjoy it. You, too, will be a happier and more dynamic creature for the experience.