Every day, I feed the goldfish. I go to the tank. Take the little container of fish food out of the drawer on the left, open the little trap door on top of the tank and sprinkle a pinch of fish food. Twice a day. Like clockwork.
Oh, crap. I’ll be right back.
*Goes and feeds fish, which he forgot to do earlier. Suffers derisive wall-eyed eye-roll from fish. Returns to blog.*
Here’s the thing, though, the fish food container hasn’t been in the drawer on the left for at least a couple of weeks. It’s too big. Instead, it sits on top of the table next to tank. In plain sight. Still, every feeding time, I open that damn drawer, immediately realize there’s no food there and enter a bottomless pit of self-loathing. But then, by the next feeding, I’ve already forgotten. The goldfish and I apparently share a three-second memory.
When I pack up at the end of a work day, the shutting down process is the same: turn off the computer, put the glasses and iPod in the case, then the thermos. Zip up the briefcase. Coat on. Light off. Go home. Same every time. If I change the order, stuff still gets done, but it feels weird. My morning routine is pretty mechanized too.
Am I boring?
Well, yes, but that’s not really the issue (today, anyway).
The issue is ruts.
Specifically, falling into them.
*Cue soft music and mood music – boom chakka chakka*
Wait. Sorry. Not that kind of rut. I meant falling into a rut, a routine way of doing things. We all do it. You might say, we as a society have gotten into a rut of getting into ruts. But that would be stupid and annoying.
Anyway, settling into a routine in life isn’t necessarily bad, of course. Routines make the unfamiliar familiar; make us more efficient. Getting my stuff packed up quickly in the morning gets me to work on time and gets me home quickly in the evening. Routine (usually) gets the fish fed.
But other times, relying on ruts can be dangerous. If you always drive the same stretch of road the same way every day on cruise control because you have every turn and bump memorized, you could overlook black ice or a kid on a bicycle, with disastrous results.
And sometimes, ruts can be outright bad for our health. Alcoholics drink because it’s comfortable and familiar and because their bodies think they need to – like how my hand goes to the drawer for the fish food that isn’t there. I have no science to support any of this, so don’t quote me in your next American Medical Association presentation.
Lack of sound foundation is a rut for this blog.
I take comfort in that.
and t and the fish, you see, have short term memories. Muscle memory. What a bastard.