It’s Tuesday (for narrative purposes). You know this because Marg is wearing her puffy sleeved chequered blouse, tapered ankle length slacks in emerald green and New Balance sneakers. You know her name is Marg because you’ve heard “Thanks Marg, your skim cap is ready!” at least 398 times. She’s a newbie.
Though she is unaware, blissful or otherwise as she takes her SC and tracks her steps (1205 already! Not even 8am!) off to her office, Marg is an integral part of your daily morning ritual.
Our lives, for all their milestones and adventures, are largely long sequences of routine. The alarm goes off at the same time each morning, and then the snooze. Light switch on. Shuffle wearily to the bathroom. Most items on our routine to do list don’t warrant mentioning, not the things you regale when someone asks you how’s your morning been (“It was wonderful thanks Lauren, I put my right sock on first, then the left. Then I put my right shoe on. And then the left. How was yours?”) But routine has a certain something something about it. A beautiful mundaneness. It allows your mind to wander, to imagine, and allows you to interact with your surroundings in a way you couldnt if all your mental energy was consumed by ‘get wallet from handbag. Scan train card. Step left foot, step right foot. Oh geez BREATHE IN!’
The coffee shop is full of routines. Full of Marg’s skim caps, but also your flat whites, Tony’s large caps with one, and George’s strong almond lattes. Jeremy has just broken from convention and ordered a double espresso, but he’s just had a baby and doesn’t know which way is up. And herein lies the magic. Marg has maybe noticed that the blend was particularly delicious this morning. Or maybe she noticed nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling as she took her first sip. Tony has a stressful meeting coming up and needs reassurance of a hot beverage. George has to wait a little longer for his coffee than usual, but is using the time wisely to tell you about his grandson’s new favourite place to put his peas. Jeremy is just happy to be here (even if it doesn’t show it through baggy eyes and the grunt of acknowledgement) because he is in the place where they give you the wake up juice and no one is screaming.
Recognising these nuances of our environment, and sensing what we consume and our surroundings, whether knowingly or subconsciously, comes from a foundation of routine. If there was no routine, nothing would be ‘better than usual’, as usual wouldn’t exist. It serves as a base so that we can notice when something is a little out of the ordinary, and given a bit of thought, that little thing can delight you, really tickle you pink.
A cup of coffee, for example, can transform your humdrum to ceremony. It becomes a vessel of possibility and enchantment. It is the hidden treasure of routine.