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Novelty Vs. Routine


I have two warring impulses inside me.

One is for novelty, and the other is for routine, or, predictability.

On the one hand, it’s really nice to have a steady job.  I especially appreciate it after having spent a year as an on-call substitute teacher.  Most weekday mornings, if I was working that day, began with a phone call in the wee hours of the morning.  Only then would I find out in what classroom and school I was working.  If there was no phone call and I had nothing pre-arranged, I wasn’t working that day.  Prior to that job, I was a private tutor, and, even though I had a schedule for each day, I couldn’t really predict when someone was going to cancel on me.

So, it’s really nice to know I have to show up at a particular time and place every morning, and that it will be accompanied by a steady paycheck.

It’s also really nice to have a steady relationship (with my wonderful husband), a place to live, a car that behaves reasonably well, a bank account, and a myriad of other things that add up to the routines and structure of my life.

All in all, it’s generally a pretty comfortable position to be in.

After all, sometimes, novelty is not welcome at all.  Like sudden car trouble that leaves me stranded on the side of the freeway for several hours (true story!).

But too much routine, predictability, sameness, really gets to me sometimes.  I stagnate.  I start to feel frustrated and depressed.

When I do laundry, there’s just going to be more to do.  Though I exercise one day, I will still have to exercise another day.  When I finish grading tests for the week, there will be more next week.

I really get tired of tasks that have to be repeated over and over again.

I start to wonder what the point of it all really is.

And, actually, I don’t really know what the point is.  (Okay, I get the point of doing laundry, but you know what I mean.)

All I know is that I have to keep trudging along.

I try to find the joy in the little things.  And believe you me, I have great faith in the small pleasures of life, like really good chocolate and hot showers.  But what I really crave is novelty.

Before decrying me as a hedonist, please be aware that I hold down a full time career (plus a summer job), have a happy marriage, and fulfill responsibilities at church.  Everyone needs a break sometimes.

Some may argue that novelty only brings temporary pleasure.  To some extant that’s true, but it also brings me sanity.  Looking forward to my next fun event or fondly remembering past ones gives me the motivation to continue to daily grind.

Novelty can come in many forms.  For me, it’s usually an outing of some sort, such as to a movie, play, or concert, shopping (usually window shopping), or going out to eat, especially somewhere I don’t go very often.  My husband and I also love going to Renaissance faires.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a weekend to “just relax.”  On such a weekend, I probably sleep in and don’t go anywhere.

But too many “relaxing” weekends will leave me feeling anything but relaxed.

Even on vacation, I don’t like to “relax.”  Lying on a beach all day working on my tan sounds horribly dull and I never want to do it.  I want to spend the day seeing things and doing things and discovering new things.

I think I am miss-categorized as a human being.  I am a human doing.

I suppose someone could psychoanalyze me and figure out what’s “wrong” with me to make me crave novelty so.  But I don’t really care.  Really, I just want to know if there’s anyone else like me, or if I’m all alone in my insane need for novelty.

So what do you say?  How important is novelty?



  1. EHM says:

    Very important.

    I too love the security of a daily routine. I like knowing I have a place to sleep at night, I have food in the fridge, etc. I like knowing that I will get paid if I go into work. It’s comforting.

    But that doesn’t mean we’re supposed to live our lives in a rut. It’s one thing to take joy in the little things and to praise God for all that He has given us- for He has. All that He has given can be taken at a moment’s notice and so we appreciate the tedium of a normal, every day life. And there is nothing wrong with that- it’s normal. People are creatures of habit and we enjoy our habits.

    It’s also normal to want to break free and do something new, and different. It’s why people learn to ski, or paint, or fish, or do any number of different things that make them get out of their normal routines. It’s why we love going to see a movie- it’s something that breaks the tedium of every day life.

    I compare it to having chicken and rice for dinner every day. There was a time when that was all I could afford- chicken and rice. It’s serviceable, it can be made in different ways so it tastes different but, at the end of the day, it’s still chicken and rice. But then, oh, there’s a few extra bucks and you get a steak. Isn’t that a treat?

    It’s the same thing.

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