13 November, 2015

Rhythm nearly rhymes with repetition*

This afternoon I was messaging a friend in Australia while waiting in a line at a shop. When my turn arrived I tossed my phone back into my bag before I'd properly stopped using it. On my way out of the store it used its smart-phone capacity to call my friend without my permission! I didn't look at the phone again until I'd arrived home a few minutes later and found this:
I think it is the disruption of daily rhythm that makes
travel so stressful for me.

Did you mean to or know that you just called me? I spoke or tried to say hello for a little while but couldn't get a reply. smile emoticon

In the end she called me back and we chatted for an hour while she picked up her daughter from school (speaker phone). As we chatted I realised that in Australia they are headed for summer holidays and the end of the school year. It seems familiar yet odd as we're only a couple of months into the new school year here and the rhythms of life that we had in Australia are different here.

Daily life held together by routine
Rhythm is an interesting theme running through all our lives. Most days people have an overlying repeating schedule that shapes our day. For most of us it looks something like: get up > eat breakfast > go somewhere or do something > eat lunch > go somewhere or do something > eat dinner > go to bed. 

I find comfort in that and get stressed when the rhythm is disrupted. This week, for example, my rhythm has been disrupted, David's been away all week and as a result I'm tired. I'm also struggling at present with the sun going down earlier. Because our house is close to other houses, it can be quite dark inside by 4.30. That period from 4.30 to dinner time I'm finding vaguely unsettling.

On the flip-side of the coin I find changes in routine stimulating. I look forward to things that you mark on the calendar like long weekends, conferences, a special meal or outing.

Like most people with school aged children our lives are shaped by the school calendar and school day. Even more so, with a teacher in the family! As I work from home my schedule is given limits by the boys. For example last month I could expect that I would have one boy home at 4.30, one at 5.30 and the other between 6 and 6.30. We also spent most Saturdays at cross-country meets. Now with a change in sporting seasons
two boys come home before 4.30 and the other at 6.30 or later but our weekends are free at present. Changing rhythms.

Easy to lose perspective
People we meet in Japan often mention that it is an opposite season in Australia, but most find that hard to comprehend. It is, even if you've lived there. I'm pulling out my warm clothes now because we're descending into the teens in temperatures (Celsius), yet my friend on the phone was pulling into McDonalds to get a frozen coke because she needed something to cool her down. It's hard to wrap your brain around.

The rhythm we embrace in our daily lives can be so consuming, however, that we lose perspective on all that's happening around us. So this week my perspective has been shaped by the absence of my husband. It's been easy to be consumed by that reality. I'm very glad that I made sure to get out and hear other people's perspectives: a single colleague headed for home assignment next year, a prayer meeting about something other than me and mine, and this afternoon an unscheduled phone call that forced my vision elsewhere.

So while I find that for my sanity I need to keep a close focus on my family and my own responsibilities, I know that I need a healthy dose of looking outwards too.

How about you? Do you have a difficulty with too much routine or too little? Do you have trouble maintaining a good perspective on your own life rhythms?

Here's a post I wrote two and a half years ago about feeling uncomfortable about too much predictability.

*This is in response to a writing theme prompt for this week on Velvet Ashes' The Grove, an online community of Christian women serving overseas.

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