Routine. The word makes me shudder. I feel like I’ve spent my life trying to avoid it any way possible. I probably tried hardest during college, because we were studio based for the final years I had no set time to get there or leave so I would make a conscious effort to mix it up. If I met the same person two days in a row I’d walk a different route or leave at a different time. I thought I was better than routine. Better than bed times and rush hour. I thought.
But now, when I look back, I realise I’ve always had some sort of routine on the go, even if they don’t tend to last too long. During the final months in college, as I was working on my degree project, I’d work til 2am, read til 3am (usually Irvine Welsh) and wake up by 9.30. I’d cook and freeze enough food for weeks on end just so I had one less thing to think about or decide during those endless days of AutoCAD and Pantones.
Working life has a way of imposing routine on you one way or the other. You don’t choose your times, you do what you have to do. So I’ve sort of imagined myself as having routine without really devising it. But lately I’ve been thinking about how much I really need it. Friends, it’s well into July, and for the first time in 2014 I actually know what’s happening next week and it’s so fking liberating. Just knowing that I’m working, what I’m doing every morning and where I’m going has impacted my life more than I would have imagined. I have energy and hunger, literal and figurative, for the first time in months.
I feel like I’ve achieved more and had more free time in the last month than in a long, long time. Ice creams on the pier, yoga in the sun, movies in the park, dancing marathons with great friends and more music than I know what to do with. All I want to do is move and create and do. I’ve finally gotten to grips with an editorial calendar and started a photo project I’d been procrastinating on for two years – that in itself is huge. And I’ve got ideas floating around for new projects that I know I’m going to make happen. All last year I felt as if I was on the verge of something but I couldn’t figure out what it was, there was a sense of something being close enough to taste but I knew I needed patience. It feels like the picture is coming into focus slowly and it’s looking pretty good.
Having a routine is not the same as being in a rut, and there is no shame in it. Routine is what lets the other stuff float to the surface. Uncluttered by small worries and insignificant decisions. I may not be as violent or as creative in my work as I might like to be but I’m opening myself up to it. Regaining some sort of routine to attach myself is giving me back freedom I didn’t know I’d lost.
I’m thinking of trying my hand at skateboarding before this summer disappears.