When we had garage sales my mom would tell us to move the things on the tables around so they created new energy and people would buy them. I thought she was weird until people would buy the things I moved. There was something about the movement that created life...
For years, probably 10, I worked on someone else's schedule. Whether it was working at a mini-golf place, coffee shop, early childcare center, or nannying. Someone else's needs dictated when and where I'd be. In primary school - college, there was some semblance of a scheduled routine. It fluctuated and it didn't. When Cale and I moved to Michigan, I had nowhere to go, nothing to do. The job I had when I got here I could pretty much do on my own time, from my home. It felt like freedom. No longer bound to the confines of someone's scheduled plans for me or them. Simply open and expansive like Lake Michigan.
Somewhere along the floating I added a few more things to tie me down and create balance. I wrote about it all, letting change happen as it needed and recently I started to feel like the ease of floating is actually a struggle; like I am treading water to keep from drowning. This is not a good feeling. I've spent some time examining why my free-floating, ease-ful life suddenly feels restrictive. You see, I think while I've added things I was still living like I had ample freedom. So I've come up with an idea: What if the changes I make always eventually turn stagnant? Could the freedom of no schedule have become just as much a stagnant routine as my life had been with a schedule?
Sunday morning I woke up, bitten by the simplifying bug and walking into the kitchen to go through cupboards. The next thing I knew all the members of my kitchen were sitting on the counters and when I put them back, I didn't put them in their previously assigned spot. They all got new spots. A change, a shift of routine. The dishes and spices, the flour and coffee cups were stagnant and needed new life, just like the garage sale items. A possible new solution, not to a problem, to a stillness.
Stillness and contentment are beautiful. The are needed. They are balanced by movement and change. If still too long, Lake Michigan would become a mosquito ridden swamp, full of dead matter. When I take that metaphor into my life, if I become still, too stuck in my routine, it's possible that I will no longer produce energy and life but instead die.
As my cupboards are renewed with a fresh new home for bowls, I recognize a need to also switch up my routine, to set a schedule. Maddie reminded me of the days of College. Where our schedules were set but not fixed, where they changed every few months and were set again. That's the kind of schedule I am setting for myself. One that I will hold myself too but not grip. One that after a few months can change. Because doing something over and over even if it's doing nothing becomes routine. I think it's fitting, as Fall approaches, for a change. A small shift, like rearranging cupboards, could make a world of difference for the productivity of my life.