Sunday 2 February 2014

Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music

Every Sunday morning (for instance, today) I make myself a half English breakfast. Half, because I only go for the hash browns, sausages, egg, fried toast and beans. Occasionally I go the whole hog (pun intended) with black sausage, bacon and mushrooms. Every Sunday I also make myself a tall cup of real, ground coffee. Hot Lava Java, since you ask. Every Sunday I also go to the same newsagents to buy a copy of The Observer. Every Sunday I also do the ironing whilst watching telly and catching up with the programmes I have missed during the week. Every Sunday, weather permitting, I go for a run (at the time of writing this post it looks like it will happen because, luckily, we can put our boats and oars to one side and use the pavements in London as we are supposed to).

Every Sunday. That could be the title of my post today. Every... day, month, evening, you name it. We are creatures of habit, aren’t we? But how did we get here?

Excluding those who suffer from OCD (and I might be a member of this club, although not a high profile one) most of us, humans, fall into habits very easily. That’s probably the norm in one’s country of birth. After all, it’s the same streets you walk every day or the same bus you take or the same people you meet. What happens, however, when you relocate to another land?

We try to make sense of our surroundings by creating our own map. A mental map within a physical one, if you like. We grab the equivalent of the posts or stakes you see in pens and fences and hammer them into an imaginary ground. After we have run some barbed wire around them, we can then stretch or shorten these boundaries. The feeling of safety and, above all, normality this metaphorical enclosure provides is a satisfying one.

That is ultimately the goal: normality. And order, and discipline, too. As the parent of a teenager and an almost-adolescent (as she never tires of reminding me) I recognise the signs of convention-breaking in them. I was the same at that age. There was nothing I hated more than normality, routines and conformity. Because at the end of the day that was what routine meant to me: conformity. Not for a second did I think that when I got older I would be running towards the safe arms of Lady Routine.

Babies have it easy: eat, poop/wee and sleep. Then, do it all again. But that baby gets older. And older. And older. At some point her/his “routine” will involve getting legless in a city centre on a Saturday night with no prior planning, just for the fun of it or finish work and meet their best friend in town instead of going straight home. The irony is that these former babies would not call this “routine”. For them, an impromptu visit to a new restaurant would be labelled as “spontaneous” or “out of the norm”. So, why do we, then create regular regimes for our daily lives after?

First, because they are effortless. They also tend to be unconscious. We do not always have a reason to adopt a particular way of doing things. I mentioned the immigrant’s experience before and, obviously, this is an issue close to my heart. My love for London grew stronger when I began to commute to the travel company I was employed at many years ago. The simplicity of that journey, travelling the same route every day, seeing almost the same people on the overground, gave me a sense of belonging. Even when I had to change my travel plans because of diversion or problems on the tube I still felt that I was not disorientated any more. I realised that unconsciously I had gone from the “Cuban relocated to London” to the “Cuban living and belonging in London”. There could also be another reason why we opt for routine in our mature years. To free up our creativity and imagination more. It sounds like a paradox, I know, but by doing things in a certain order and with the same regularity we are almost inducing in ourselves a state of catharsis. Faced with the quotidian once more, we then strive for the extraordinary, either something that we produce or a new experience we expose ourselves to. So, after all routine has its (positive) uses, even if our young ones might see it as the dreaded Dull Monster to escape from.

© 2014

Next Post: “Urban Dictionary”, to be published on Wednesday 5th February at 11:59pm (GMT)


  1. i think that a certain routine helps us to have our mind free for other creative stuff as well... routine is relaxing for the mind... i realized this when i worked in sydney and california for some weeks... there was no routine and things had to be figured out swallows a lot of energy... your breakfast sounds awesome... hmmm..

  2. a basic routine is a good thing, as long as there's always room for some spontaneity!

  3. stevie nicks...nice....

    i think there are routines that are good...the disciplines of life...thre are def some routines that are bad...and sometimes it is good for the creativity to shake it up and try something breathe fresh life into life...and our arts...

    i saw elsewhere that you have been sick, i hope you are feeling better today....

  4. If I didn't have routine I wouldn't be able to concentrate on other things, those things that take us by surprise, or new stuff that happens along.

    Have to say that I admire your choice of breakfast, gone are the days when I could indulge in a full English :O)

    Hope you are fully recovered from whatever ailed you.

  5. No soy de desayunos fuertes me siento incapaz de comer tu desayuno, así que espero que lo disfrutes con buena música.
    Un abrazo.

  6. There are many routines that help out and get things done, but also many that are just no fun

  7. Your post rang a bell with me. Not that I have relocated in another country for a long while, but just the thing about routine. I do find, though, that routine tends to be associated with a place. So, for instance, I really appreciate my cup of coffee made the way I like it in the morning, and my special blend of muesli, in fact, I actively look forward to it. But I forget all about it when I go somewhere else, and tea and Weetabix will be just fine. I suppose the truth is that routine mustn't get too important otherwise one might accidentally slip in to dullness after all......

  8. "half English breakfast", oucg, I could never eat that much for breakfast. Not even for lunch. :)

  9. Many thanks for your comemnts. As (bad) luck would have it, I couldn't have my half English today, nro could I take full advantage of the good weather today. I have been ill (bug, food poisoning? I've no idea) since the early hours of today. The only thing I can say is, thank you, darling (to my wife), you're star! :-)

    Greetings from London.

  10. Well, there's nothing stronger to break us out of routine than illness. It's true routines free us up to attend to things we love, like writing. It also creates a certain rhythm in our lives.
    Hope you get better soon.

  11. To me, CiL, the definition of routine is my pattern of life for a year or two or three. Usually, no longer.

    Throughout my adult existence, I have made a conscientious effort not to fall into a rut, and to run from routine and habit. I have quit jobs I enjoyed for no other reason than to break out of the routine into which I was falling. I accept the fact that many people need routine, thrive on routine and, possibly, could not successfully exist without routine. But, as for me, I frequently have said I could never visualize myself as having lived in the same place and worked at the same job for a lifetime. It might be right for some people, but not for me. I have prospered by meeting new faces and encountering new challenges.

    This is another topic which could lead to hours of discussion.

    Your breakfast sounds delicious, but it would be an entire day's rations for me most of the time. I like to have Eggs Benedict three or four times a year, with extra ingredients (like hash browns and double bacon) supplementing the usual menu.

    As for Stevie Nicks, to me she is one of three or four true divas in the history of rock music. Bravissimo ....

    Now, back to the Super Bowl ....

  12. I derive a great deal of comfort from my routines. (Yes, I do tend toward the OCD end of the spectrum.) In the worst of circumstances, little routines bring me a brief sense of normalcy and remind me that "this too shall pass". Also, I want your breakfast.

  13. So sorry to hear that you are ill. There is a very bad flu bug going around here in the States and I hope you don't have that. Feel better soon.

    I guess I still have a bit of the adolescent in me because I am not good with routine. I like structure of a sort but hate it when everything is the same each day like going to the same job and coping with the same people. However, Sunday routines I do like. There is a certain freedom in knowing what is coming when I have no obligations and can just be and I suppose that just being is the same whenever there is the freedom.
    Having just moved to a new city, I relate to the ease of knowing where I am but I have yet to establish any sort of routine. Maybe I will never. :)To me it seems there is more creativity to be found in chaos or even madness.

  14. My routines help keep my life in order...or so I think.
    But boredom is also a very real threat that sometimes drives me to burst out into the unknown! *smiles*

    I really hope you are feeling better...:)

  15. Un complemento muy bueno mùsica y buen cafè nos pone màs creativos y divertidosabrazos.y saludos.

  16. I absolutely agree with the value of routines and structure! But sometimes maintaining all of that is easier said than done! I wrote the dVerse Poets Pub prompt on repetition the other day--which deals with this a little bit--not so articulately, but you might like it. It's the Poetics prompt--feel no obligation! Only if interested. Thanks. K.

    PS - I used to just love London--it's been so long since I've been there now--k.

  17. Stevie Nicks, grandes gustos musicales, saludos amigo.

  18. You have adapted well to your environment, clearly. Stevie Nicks takes me back.

  19. all we have our routines and we enjoyed or are how we feel ok:)

  20. I enjoyed this post very much. I can identify with getting older and the enjoyment of routine - compared with the hatred of it when young. I have become almost OCD of late :-)

  21. I found myself loving your Sunday Routine: Java, Breakfast, Newspaper, & even Black pudding sometimes, Which I LOVE, but cannot get in America.

    I have such a routine that I'm in a RUT in a way, but it's difficult not to have one. You know.

    What do you do in London? Artist?

    How BLESSED you are to be there. Such a melting pot of culture and loveliness.

    One of my all time favorite places in the universe!

    WOWWwwww! Xxxx

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