Day 198

Some people like routine and familiarity. They find comfort in getting up at the same time, going to work at the same time and via the same route, having dinner in the same restaurant on Friday evenings, renting the same beach house every summer.

I envy you. But I now know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am not one of you.

How do I know… besides the fact that I never put my Christmas tree in the same place twice, and that my hair is a different color from month to month and year to year?

I have now walked almost 200 days in a row and never once have I repeated the same exact walk, via the same exact route.

That’s right: not once.

For many years I could not tolerate even the possibility that I might be living in the house where I would live for the rest of my life. Consistency, familiarity, routine: these have always felt like another way of saying “stuck” or even “dead,” to me.

Emerson said a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and I embrace his philosophy. I have a rebellious nature: being in a rut feels a lot to me like suffocating.  Knowing what to expect from a given morning, afternoon, or evening can feel the same. There’s only one thing I like to keep consistent and that’s mutual love, support, and joy from those who people my life.

That, and some sunshine. If sunshine isn’t available, then at least give me fresh air and oxygen. A walk outside is my idea of a little adventure every day. And I like my adventures to surprise me.

You can imagine, then, how excited I was to read today in Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, that “challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness.  The brain gets stimulated by surprise…”

I realize now that the daily walking has made me happier precisely because it is not something I’ve made a routine part of my life.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  The tyranny of a daily schedule — a daily walking time, a regular route or even three favorite routes — is a big downer to me.  For me, the joy is knowing that every day I’m going to see something new, or experience something familiar in a new and different way.

I am a wanderer, a pilgrim soul (to quote Yeats — rather out of context, I might add).

And I love that.