Routines, habits, daily rituals are important. Get up, make the coffee, feed the dog, get the paper, shower, leave for work. Habits are efficient. If you had to get up every morning and think, “Now, what should I do first?” you’d still be sitting on the edge of your bed at noon.
The downside is, you can go through your paces, day after day, until it all blends together. Same stuff different day. Breaking up the routine is one very good reason to go on vacation.
Pam and I have been living in New York this week. Our daughter and son-in-law who live here are themselves on vacation—ten days in England—so we have moved into their apartment. It’s not air-conditioned, so I have been sleeping by an open window and listening to night sirens and rumbling trucks, the whistle of jets and the chop of helicopters.
In the morning, following my daughter’s suggestion, I have been walking to Barney Greengrass to get my lox and bagels. I have spent most all day at the Guggenheim museum, seeing art that rearranges my view of the world. I have actually gotten good at scuttling from here to there in the dark underground of the subway tunnels, being amazed as I ascend the stairs smack in the middle of some whirling Manhattan scene.
I have walked into Times Square, a place that—like Vegas—always just makes me smile in utter disbelief, stood in the half-priced ticket line and snagged an orchestra row seat to “Clybourne Park,” a poignant, witty, funny, devastating play about race and culture and neighborhoods and the value of a house for sale to the “wrong” people. I have walked out of that dark theatre and walked the High Line with Pam, trying to understand the experience we’ve just had, while old and young people speaking German and French and Russian glide by us.
I have sipped a beer on a rooftop, twenty stories up, with the Empire State Building leaning over me, then walked to dinner and gone home to 9C and the open window by the bed and the sound of distant laughter and music from a few couples sitting out on white plastic lawn chairs on the roof across the street and below.
I close my eyes and give thanks for my routines and for the necessity of breaking wildly from them.