Posts Tagged ‘routine’

Ritual and Routine

August 14, 2013 29 comments

Ritual and routine. Watchwords for my life.

When I say “ritual” I’m talking about the personal things we do, rather than anything connected to religion. Little things like knocking on wood before performing a certain task, maybe. Things that don’t really mean anything, but make us feel better.

Routine – the things we do every day, the things we have to do, like checking all the windows are closed before we go to work.

I love my routine. I do the same things every workday morning, in the same order. Get out of bed, make lunch, shave, shower, brush teeth. That’s all fine. Next I check the kitchen plugs are off, check the water to the washing machine is off, check the washing machine and microwave are unplugged, check the side window’s closed, check the amplifier is off at the wall, check the amplifier base unit is off at the wall, check the bathroom fan master switch is off and leave the house.

There’s more, but you get the idea.

Here’s the kicker – I already know most of the stuff is fine. I use the washing machine on a Monday evening. It can’t magically plug itself back in, but I need to check every morning. If I don’t check I feel uneasy. That’s when routine becomes ritual. It serves no useful purpose but I need to do it to make myself feel better. If I do something out of order it feels very wrong.

Then there’s the stuff which my brain expects to happen. The other day I walked into a door at work. I flung my right arm at the door handle and missed. I tried with my left hand and missed. However, my brain expected the door to be open by now, so my legs just kept on going. Ouch!

Here’s what I imagine was going on in my head at the time, starting in the “Department for Hands and Arms”.

Brain Error

Once I’ve locked a door, I check it’s locked – that’s good common sense. If I wait around in the proximity of the door for more than a few seconds I have to check it again. That’s just mad! I know it’s locked.

Does anyone else have a routine which has morphed into a ritual?

Back on the Grid

June 23, 2013 5 comments

I’m back everyone! What’s that you say? You didn’t notice I was gone?


I was only away for a few days to be fair, and since I only post a couple of times a week there’s been very little difference post-wise from the draliman stables.

I do want to apologise to the people I follow. My philosophy is “If you post it, I shall read” but I only had my phone with me and I didn’t really keep up with reading all your lovely blogs – the screen is a little small :-(.

I’ve been on a little holiday in North Wales, near a town called Dolgellau. I’ll pop some photos into a couple of posts in the coming days – here’s one I took during a forest walk at Coed y Brenin.

Waterfall in Wales

A waterfall in Coed y Brenin forest park, Wales

For those of you who know me a little bit, you’ll appreciate that this was quite a big step for me. I haven’t been on a holiday for five years, and I’m so driven by routine it’s sometimes difficult to leave the flat, let alone drive all the way to Wales on my own (350 miles). I’m always convinced that if I do something out of my ordinary routine something bad will happen. There’s probably some psychological condition for that – “mild routine-itis” I expect it is.

Anyway I had a lovely time :-). Nothing terrible happened (except to my bank balance and waist line). Maybe next year I’ll have another holiday, who knows?

Letting it Happen

March 17, 2013 3 comments

Today I shall attempt the impossible! Two prompts, one post! To quote BBC’s Red Dwarf (from the episode “Holoship”):

RIMMER: I shall undertake both tasks simultaneously if it’s all the same to you.
PLATINI: Mr. Rimmer, that is impossible.
RIMMER: Nevertheless, I shall attempt it.

Prompts for the Promptless by Rarasaur: “Wu wei, or non-doing, is a Taoist practice involving letting one’s action follow the simple and spontaneous course of nature rather than interfering with the harmonious working of universal law by imposing arbitrary and artificial forms.  In other words, it is the action of non-action.”

Daily Prompt: Comfort Zone“What are you more comfortable with — routine and planning, or laissez-faire spontaneity?”

A panda, whose name may or may not be Wu Wei. We'll probably never know. (Picture JP Fischer, Wiki Creative Commons.)

A panda, whose name may or may not be Wu Wei. We’ll probably never know. (Picture JP Fischer, Wiki Creative Commons.)

So let’s just forget for a moment that “Wu Wei” is an excellent name for a panda. Let’s look at “spontaneity” first.

I’m about as spontaneous as a brick. Not one of those bricks which suddenly and without warning spontaneously decides to become part of a house. No, this brick just sits there letting life happen around it. It’s a Wu Wei brick, you might say.

Most of the time I’m a bit like the Wu Wei brick. I let things happen around me and just go with the flow. The world revolves around me and I sit happily in my little bubble.

Of course, I live in the real world. I work, I go shopping and so on. That part of my life is ruled by routine. Everything happens on a certain day at a certain time, even, to a certain extent, what I eat and when. That sounds really boring but it works for me. It keeps my anxiety level down. If I have to do something which breaks my routine, I try to forget about it until it’s time to actually do it. That way I don’t obsess about it.

Safe in my Bubble

“Safe in my Bubble”, part of the DraliDoodles(TM) collection

This sounds like I always have everything planned out. As far as my routine goes, that’s true. However, I never plan every detail of everything, because then it’s too easy for something to go wrong, and that would be “bad”. I’ve booked three days in North Wales in June, my first holiday for five years. I have a room booked and I have a route planned to get there, but once I’m there I’ll just let the mood take me. If I planned everything, I’d panic if something happened to change my plans.

So, to summarise I’m a semi-Wu Wei routine-driven partial-planner.

Wu Wei-hey!

For all you art fans out there, I’ve talked to the DraliDoodles team and they’ve given me some details! They tell me that “Safe in my Bubble” was rendered using a black ball-point ink-distribution unit on a canvas of dried compressed pulped wood. It was digitised using “a cheapo Canon scanner what we got off Amazon”.

When Routine Goes Bad

January 22, 2012 2 comments

Ah, routine. My life is ruled by it. Many people’s are. Wake up, make up the lunch box, have a shave, have a shower, go to work.

Do work.

Come home, make tea, watch a DVD while eating tea. Watch some more telly. Go to bed.

Simple? Safe, certainly. But it’s a lot of work, in my own head. There are certain programmes to watch on certain days. The same food is eaten on each day each week. And I don’t like this to change.

pizza and Dr Who

Pizza and Dr Who - the perfect Saturday night combination

For example, Saturday night is pizza night. Pizza and (currently) an episode of Dr Who. The Dr Who is important. I know the episodes really well. That means I can look down at my pizza to sprinkle on the Tabasco without missing anything.

I think of it as my weekly treat. If I “have” to do something else on Saturday night I get mildly irritated. My brain immediately screams “But, but, it’s pizza night!”. I need to designate another night to be pizza night. That mucks up my routine for the alternate night. The sky falls and the world comes to an end. I can’t help thinking this isn’t entirely “normal” (whatever that is).

gas on


Routine has its up side, of course. When I leave home, I check various plug-sockets, electrical equipment, the windows and so on in the same order every single time. That way nothing gets missed. I know nothing’s been left on. No worries, no “rushing back home to check”.

On the negative side, I’ve noticed that some things I do are so automatic, they cease to be “things to do” and become instead “the correct number of things to do”. I once had a pair of trousers with an extra button. More than once I left the house with the fly unzipped. My brain insisted I’d done the correct number of things in order to fasten those trousers – the extra button took the place of the fly.


Batman doesn't have this problem - he just locks up and goes

Where do things deteriorate to the point of the ridiculous? When I lock a door I always give the handle a tug to check – normal enough. I then need to leave the immediate vicinity within 4-5 seconds, or I’ll check the door again. Just in case it has magically unlocked itself in the meantime. And I’ll keep checking it until I leave. The absolute knowledge that it’s locked doesn’t help.

Some people describe routine as “boring”. I prefer “predictable”. I’m sure there’s a line there somewhere, I’m just not sure I’m on the right side of it.