Saturday, June 5, 2010


Habits are interesting things... we all have them, but not the same ones. I have many a friend who cannot start the day without coffee in hand. I am not sure if it is the mental jolt they get from the routine of making the coffee - the sound of grinding the dark roasted beans, the aroma emerging like a potent perfume and the taste on the tongue - or, if it is the physical properties of coffee that really make it a morning must. But either way, they seem quite wayward and weary without it! Others, fewer to be sure, need a morning run to properly start the day. (I have never been in this habit!) Some people find morning devotions mandatory to set the day off in the right direction. And as long as I have know these friends, their habits remain as fixed as the north star. The day invariable begins with a cup of hot coffee, a brisk run, some quiet time.

My habits have never been as solid. Other than the obvious hygienic habits (who can feel awake until they have brushed their teeth?), I don't have a set series of activities. That is not to say that I don't have routines, I just don't keep the same ones for years on end! What seems to be predictable is that my routines are bound to turn like the seasons.

Right now my morning ritual involves making a cup of rooibos tea. Selecting a certain pen to write in my journal. Looking over to the mountains of Congo... some sort of visual anchor, I imagine. And then I locate myself by reading email that has come during the night, reading recent FB posts from friends, scanning the headlines in the New York Times and CNN. But it was not always so... for a while I had no desire for tea in the morning. For another set of months I could not see the mountains, the haze was so thick. Even time with the journal fell out of fashion for a spell. And I am alright with that.

I have observed over the years that what works best for me are gentle habits that suit the season of life. These habits are open to a nudge in another direction, be it from my internal or external environment. I don't have tyrannical rituals that demand I obey, enslaving me to one and only one way to begin my day. My habits don't bully me each morning, threatening a bruising if I don't play their way. My habits have always been kind, flexible and sensitive to the world in and around me. I appreciate that about my habits. I am glad they are somewhat organic. They lend me ample structure to start any given day, but are responsive to the seasons that come. So I embrace my semi-organic rituals!

What I know is that my morning ritual will be in place... until it needs to give way to something else. And so I can count on habits changing as I, myself, am ever changing - growing, I hope!