The Rewards of Restless Wandering
This has been, to now anyway, an unfocused morning. These are the mornings that test your routine. Something’s off. It started by waking up twenty minutes earlier than usual, dwelling on that for a moment too long, staring at the reflection of the moon in the pool, then looking up at the moon being tickled by the budding tree branches, then back down to the reflection and so on.
But I got dressed and did my usual exercise routine. And yet it too was unusually unfocused. Not pulling the handle down to the catch position on the erg, not putting my ring back on after rowing, and on and on. But I made it through the minimum workout unscathed.
Reading was off too. My mind wandered to an article I’d read which made me wonder how a certain author I’ve read before would think about that article, which made me search for said author on Twitter instead of pressing ahead with my reading. This restlessness of mind isn’t uncommon, but perhaps I’m just paying more attention to it given the routine I’m trying to hammer home. But I did the bare minimum of reading that I wanted to do and set about writing this blog post. Looking at the time, I’ve realized that in getting up early I’m still way ahead of the game and despite being “off” the day is not at all in jeopardy of spiraling out of control. Life is full of distractions and unexpected detours. Following a system allows you to stay on track even when you get pulled off the mark a bit.
All that restlessness did accomplish a few things. Instead of reading ten pages of my current book, I looked up Wayne Curtis’ Twitter account and started following him. I saw a post of his that inspired me to look up a unique travel experience in Edinburgh when we’re there next fall. I read a Ryan Holiday article on the magic of bookstores that made me want to return to a bookstore on Martha’s Vineyard that I especially enjoy. I read an NPR article about Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit that reminded me of my life in 1991 and reflect on that for a moment. The morning, only 90 minutes old at this point, has not been unproductive at all. Such is the human experience.
Through all that unfocused 90 minutes, my routine kept me on track, ensuring that I did the three things I want to do every morning while giving me the flexibility to… wander a bit. And the wandering is where the magic is. Yesterday I finished a meeting in the Hancock Tower in Boston and walked back to my car in the garage, threw my bag in the trunk and went for a walk on Commonwealth Avenue. There was purpose in it too – I wanted to see the John Glover statue there, which I’ll write about sometime soon. But the wandering served its own purpose as I took the long way back to the car I visited the finish line of the marathon. If you’re going to pay to park in this part of Boston you might as well get your money’s worth.
I’ve written the equivalent of a long novel over the last 15 months of blogging. Last year I lapsed a few times and fell out of the habit of writing. This year I haven’t missed a day yet, and hope to continue that consistency for the rest of my life. This morning, as I was fighting through that restlessness, my morning routine served as guard rails to keep me on track. I still wandered, but managed to get where I was trying to go nonetheless.