The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Creatures of Habit

by Steve Gajadhar

"I think action is best when it emerges from a profound apprehension of the universe and human destiny, not from some wildly passionate impulse of romantic but disproportioned self-assertion."
--Bertrand Russell

In varying degrees, we are all in some way attuned to a schedule: work, school, television shows, and for some, biorhythms. Perhaps the need to schedule springs from modern man’s need to be productive, or perhaps it’s just natural for humans to break our lives into discreet, manageable chunks. But the ontology of habit is for another post, for this one I’m ruminating more on the genesis of the schedule and my many vain attempts to break out of old ones or into new ones.

My wife recognized it first. Routine gives me comfort. Whether consciously or not, every morning I set up an idea of my day spinning smoothly and if the unexpected jams in my spokes it literally gets me bent out of shape. I’m not sure what this says about me, but it’s probably not good, and no I don’t have OCD. Yet.

I recently started working from home. Initially, I relished the idea of the freedom from the office. No more work schedule. I could make my own hours!

Sometimes it amazes me how poorly I know myself.

My whole adult life has been dominated by work. Work and night classes. Work and partying. Work and writing. And then the regularity of this was instantly gone. Permanent vacation, sort of. I started like that, took the first month completely off. Completely idle. Some would say useless, but I have always praised idleness, the acquisition of useless knowledge, and the virtues of entire days blown in front of the Xbox 360. But how does one introduce schedule into the void? Slowly?

Or all at once?

And why do I (and most of us I think) always fall into the same default schedule that got me started on this topic? Blogging this up the night before has become my routine. And it shows. Every time I intend to start composing early, tumble some ideas around until one rises to the top, and then idle on it through a game of Madden.

Perhaps it’s willpower that I lack. This is certainly the case with my on again off again running schedule, and my promises to write more. You see, to me, schedule is hopelessly influenced by and intertwined with the shifting nature of commitment. For everything is schedule and schedule is everything. It’s only a matter of which one you buy into, which one you commit to. Think about it for an hour. Diets. AA. Marriage. Pets or kids. Everything in this life has some form of schedule hanging over it. A time, a place. And if you’re a believer in fate, even death checks his appointment book. So where does that leave those of you who, like me, are always starting something new and never finishing the old? As if I have the answers. I’m tired. All I do know is that next week I’m going to start writing my blog sooner, you can bet on it (but I wouldn’t). For now, I need to go check the door three times and rinse for 30 seconds before I go to sleep…


Blogger Patricia said...

This is great Steve. What line of work are you in? Schedules, I can sooooo relate, I multi task at work, am currently printing out hockey certificates at work and making dentist appointments so I can have mooooore things scheduled. I too plan on writing my blog well in advance, writing a couple blogs...HA!!! just keep what you're doing, it looks and reads great so far.

Wed Oct 04, 02:05:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Will we ever be satisified that our time is being spent properly? Just when things seem to be finally falling into place...on schedule, I find myself longing for more "unscheduled", "do-nothing", "free" time. Thanks Steve.

Wed Oct 04, 03:04:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous redpen said...

I read this having just received a letter from an old friend who, despite his history as possibly the most staid and sensible man in existence, has quit his job as an actuary in order to go see the world.

I don't think I agree that schedule is everything; quite the opposite in fact. I can't help but feel that time spent according to routine is evanescent, and that life is only really lived in those spontaneous moments where we just do something different for a change.

Or maybe I'm just jealous, because I've never been to India, and I've got too many commitments to go right now :-)

Thanks for this brief departure from the everyday, Steve.

Wed Oct 04, 03:07:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

What is it about September/October? I guess it's the back to school thing, when we need to renew ourselves, as a couple others have posted earlier. For me, I am with you one hundred percent, Steven. I have been known to write schedules for my scheduling. Freelancing is a misnomer, I'm starting to learn...

Wed Oct 04, 03:33:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger MelBell said...

Hey, it's like there's a theme week going on - this whole schedule/structure vs. free time thing seems to be a popular topic - everyone's talking about it.

Nice post, SG.

Wed Oct 04, 03:45:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

I enjoy making my schedules every morning while drinking my coffee. It's just bullshitting, but I enjoy it.

Sat Oct 07, 08:44:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Hey Patricia, I'm running my own architecture firm now, along with 2 other partners. Tons of fun!

Thanks for the kind words, gang.

Mon Oct 09, 05:48:00 pm GMT-4  

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