Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch.
Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Do you have a routine for every day? I do. Perhaps you read about the joy I take in routine and order last week.
Just like muscle memory, the more we do a certain movement, the more our brain can be freed up from the thinking of how to do this movement, to deeper thoughts or broader thoughts. Routine helps the house know what comes next. It is less work to direct the moving parts and bodies. What is the point of all that freedom?
Other times, togetherness. When my children know what to expect because I am reading off a list for each child under the heading “evening chores” then as they bustle about, I might be able to stop and smile at their antics. It helps me stay cool in an admittedly overwhelming task of directing four noisy kids before dinnertime.
Just when I sigh that sweet sigh of satisfaction common to the Type A-order loving personality, a wrench gets thrown in. Absence, sickness, you name it—things happen, life happens, and order goes out the door.
In this case, I was called away for a few days from house and home. When four days passed, I walked into the door, lugging bags down the hallway, and began to set the house right, back in order. I recover it and reclaim it. I am primarily a homemaker after all. All this happens while the children are still with their grandparents. Completing tasks that would call to me out the corner of my eye in the hour before they come, I am ready for them when they arrive.
Order matters, routine matters, but often, togetherness matters more.
There are the times when we need a better routine, a more predictable rhythm for life. Then there are the times when certain things become so predictable that our minds habituate to their presence and we need to shake it up a little bit. In 1986, Ferris Bueller took a day off from school. When I was in the church youth program, the youth minister talked about the concept of “retreat.” The person retreats, like in battle, from the world we live in day-to-day in order to build up strength, supplies and rest, then go back to the action better equipped.
Hopefully, we can all appreciate our surroundings and the people interjected in those surroundings. Sometimes, however, we need to run away for a bit.
Then, we can walk in the door, get our bearings and see the whole place with a new light, a little more color, a little more clarity. Holding the hand of the child is sweeter. The way another child leans on you rather than stands on his own feet, somehow, fills the heart. Even with a short absence, the saying is true, the heart grows fonder because the heart is reminded of what life was like without these walls, without these little beings, without this small town.
When life feels tiresome, we are not required to run away. A little break can refill an empty soul when the intention is there.
Then the work, the mindfulness, the appreciation, the gratitude must continue though normal life has resumed.
Fewer podcasts, more family movies, more story time on the couch, more hand-holding.
I will be really good at it for a while. Then I grow tired or distracted and I lose my patience, along with my temper, and I forget how good it felt to come home. To remember I call to mind that feeling. There is a memory. Retrieving the memory helps me gain perspective.
This then builds muscle memory. The more we retreat, gain strength, return, recall and grow, the easier it will be in the future to continue the path we want, the one that loves the life well-lived.
Or not. We could just keep going along, day-to-day, never-minding, but then I think, perhaps, a lot will pass us by.