The Value of Repetition
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
6:00 AM: the alarm goes off. Get out of bed, bathroom break, let the dog out. Fix coffee, get ready for work, eat breakfast, drive to work. Work the day away, drive home, perhaps there's exercise or a leisure activity, then ready for bed, sleep and repeat the next day.
The Same Old-Same-Old
Life is made of the same-old-same-old. The sun comes up and goes down. The seasons rotate through their cycle and we must endure the holidays once again. Life continues, if we are fortunate, year after year with the same rhythm.
In his book Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot wrote a series of poems about time, perspective, humanity and salvation. He wrote five drafts before he was satisfied with the finished product. He believed that he started with too little preparation and had written it too quickly.
Time and Repetition
What he learned is that life, growth and achievement are all products of repetition. Creativity, growth and healing cannot be rushed. Each one takes as long as it takes. We can cooperate with the forward movement or we can slow the forward movement, but we cannot accelerate it. It is all about time and repetition.
T.S. Eliot says that in the end, we end where we begin...with ourselves and our lives. With that in mind, we can approach life with boredom and frustration, or with curiosity. Life can be full of vitality, remain fresh and offer surprises. How do we make that happen? By being mindful, paying attention and embracing the very repetition of the everyday that threatens to bore us. Instead, we can find wonders. Not taking tomorrow for granted opens possibilities. There is something to be found in each repetition.
The “New” in The Everyday
“New” is found in the everyday by looking for the things you haven't noticed in life. When you look at a running brook, it appears to be the same every time; yet, it is never the same. It is constantly flowing and moving, shifting soil and altering the landscape. It contains new water, new sounds and new patterns. There is something unknown to be discovered in studying those sounds and patterns.
In the same way, you can return to the same place everyday of your life and it will be different. Your life is moving and shifting. You may walk the dog every morning, but the little things – the temperature, the dog's attitude, your attitude – change every time.
We can choose to live in such a way as to keep life feeling interesting and new even with the repetition. Remember that your life is still unique even if it feels like the same-old-same-old. Look for the small things that are different. Listen to the quiet voice inside. Recognize the coincidences. Consider, and even accept, the unexpected invitation.
Anne Made a Better Choice
Consider the story of Anne. The year was 1981 and there was a relatively new exercise rage going on: Aerobic Dance. Anne was in a deep depression. She spent her time at home, watching TV alone. One day, her long-time friend Alice called. As usual, Alice was trying to get Anne out of the house and to brighten her mood. She invited Anne to go try out this new form of exercise that was supposed to be fun.
Rather than decline the invitation without consideration, on that day, Anne listened. She had always wanted to dance, but never had the opportunity. She payed attention to the ordinary in her life and took a risk.
In this particular form of aerobic dance, the participants learned dance routines during a six-week period. The music was lively, the routines were challenging and took concentration. For the first time in years, Anne had to concentrate on something she liked and had fun doing it. She found that the exercise helped her body and the challenge helped her mind. Both contributed to an increase in energy which led her to find the help she needed. It was the beginning of Anne finding joy in her everyday life.
Do you struggle with the repetition in life, finding it boring and difficult? I can help you find interest in everyday life. Call me at (919)881-2001.