I was having a conversation with the youngest of my brothers, this was years ago; I’m fortunate to have the kind of brothers with whom I have conversations that are generally poignant and memorable or completely forgettable, I don’t know, maybe it’s that way with everyone. Well anyway being my younger brothers, it seems to me when they interject some insight I feel that it is either a perspective I’ve lost, or I skipped over entirely in the race to be a grown-up. That in and of itself is amusing in that I always fancied myself a Peter Pan. But, invariably it’s a race we all run and of course lose in the end; the fact that I was endeavoring to be a grown-up who acts like a kid makes no difference.
So, he and I, were bouldering, or mountain biking, or we had just finished one or the other and were having the obligatory beer afterwards. We were contemplating the afternoon and whatever it was we were or had been doing was something that my brother had only recently been turned on to. Anyway, I guess while discussing the finer points of bunny hopping a log or climbing out an overhang, we decided that I was good at “stuff”, but generally sucked at life, while he was quite the opposite.
That was an amusing notion at the time, and I felt it a great complement in that I could still impart something to my sib, whether it be how to climb harder or ride faster, while he was already embarked on a career, owned real property and had a bank account.
Well, I’m looking back on that revelation and rethinking it or maybe finally realizing the truth behind the words. To be truly good at anything, whether climbing or life takes time and it takes practice, obviously some people are more deft than others just by chance and have a leg up, but that gift only gets you so far, the rest requires effort. I think that’s what my brother was saying, not that he’d ever be able to pull harder then me and really what does it matter, but he was willing to put the work in and develop himself, to make the investment in time and if need be humiliation to do better next time.
Practice at anything had always been antithetical to my whole world view, climbing everyday was different, that was just climbing everyday, it was just something I did because it made me feel good, because it was fluid, because I was good at it. Even my heros, who if anybody I tried to emulate, by reputation subjected themselves to hellacious workout routines to prepare for their projects. Obviously it takes drive and dedication to pursue those kinds of goals, whether they be in your career or in the mountains, and it requires a routine.
So here’s my epiphany, I’ve been here two weeks and was just beginning to get into a routine when the holiday came along and derailed me, and prior to that it felt good, though I hate to admit it. With little distraction and set clinic hours, which is a paradigm shift for an ER provider (though I am on call 24/7 there’s little business) it isn’t that hard to maintain a schedule, of course the set meals probably don’t hurt either.
I’ve always been terrified of routine, to me it seemed like a small death, giving up that spontaneous part of yourself that was ready at a moments notice to breakaway. But, it turns out a constant state of readiness is not obtainable without putting in the work, and I’m going out on a limb here but without some kind of routine life is just a series of accidental experiences.
I’m not throwing in the towel, it’s that I just now recognized or rather accepted my own pattern, my own meta-routine, which is a constant rejection of any routine. I’m choosing to break the pattern.