A couple weeks ago, during a particularly busy time of work, my friend called me in the middle of the day. She had some unexpected time for a late lunch and doubted I could step out of work to meet her but asked anyway.
I was just pulling out of the work parking lot to run a few errands. The timing was perfect.
We met at a fast food place where we had often met in years past. We instantly jumped in to discuss several current topics and things on our minds. Our time together was short but full and refreshing.
I drove the few blocks back to work filled with joy and a reminder of how important it is to step out of our routines often enough to check in with the rest of the world. Okay, so this was just a tiny piece of that world, but it refreshed my perspective. The sun seemed a little brighter. I noticed details along the road. I remembered so many people going through a wide variety of challenges and joys.
Routines help us. We can invest deeply within the structures of our routines and have significant impact on those around us. But it’s important to keep those small circles in perspective. We need to check in with the rest of the world—beyond our family, work, and routine.
We need to be as flexible as we can (not just as we think we can).
Note: I drafted this just before the guidelines and restrictions surrounding Covid-19 sent waves through our communities. We have been forced out of our routines and are finding new levels of flexibility, less by choice and more by need. We have less contact with people in some ways but might be more intentional about connecting in other ways. Perhaps we no longer need this post as a reminder. But perhaps we do.
We’re out of our routines right now, so the perspective we have is within an unusual set of circumstances. We re thinking more about the world, because the boundaries of our communities have expanded to include so many others even as the boundaries of our routines have tightened. We don’t mind as many interruptions, because we don’t have enough of a routine to be interrupted. We are uncertain.
We’re learning important lessons through this, and I hope we carry some of the best of those lessons as the crisis subsides and we return to our routines.