Routine and Breath

Had it not been for the routines I have developed over the last month, I might have dropped into despondency.

I told my wife this phrase last night.

And hearing in Haruki Murakami’s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running how he developed a completely new set of routines as a novelist, reminded me that routines are almost all we have to build the sort of life we want. It is all about systems, rather than goals.

I have been speaking with students over the past two weeks, and they are treading water. My heart bleeds for them, because they want to do great things, and be a part of something great, yet they are punishing themselves almost too severely for not having the willpower.

I hated being a teenager because I felt like my mind was a prison. I did not know just how true that was, especially for men, when at the age of 25 I could feel my mind finally find its place in my skull.

Murakami totally reversed his lifestyle after writing his first novel. With a desire to write another, he closed his bar, took up running, gave up smoking, woke up earlier, went to sleep earlier, and dropped many friends who continued to ask of his time going out in the evenings. He said that he now had a new set of expectations, that his readers would have the expectation that whatever novel he wrote next would be substantially better than the one that came before. I have been reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle with my wife and I find the writing so alluring. It is almost hypnotic.

Now I am scrambling to read everything he has ever written, and I picked up a book of literary criticism on his work. I want to know what he is doing and how he is doing it.

But of course, when you turn thirty like I have, it is not just routines that you have to turn to, but also in the development of relationships and the power of self-control.

Esther Perel has offered a kind of digital therapy on her YouTube channel, which I would highly recommend. She reminded us to take deep breaths, to breathe and slow the nervous system down. Which to me, sounds an awful lot like the beginnings of mindfulness.

Demarcations, breathing. The weekend is over, now it is Monday, and the weekdays have begun.

I like discovering new things, like Murakami, but perhaps comfort things are for you. That is there too.

But if you don’t provide the space for these things to take up your life, it cannot begin.

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