Zia Hassan

Spontaneity And Routine

“Your options get narrow as you get old,” my friend told me. “There’s just less you’re able to do.”

“Or maybe it’s just that most people feel forced to make certain choices when they have kids or get married. Maybe the options are still the same and we’re still in control,” I offered.

It crosses my mind quite a bit. I had a similar conversation driving with an uncle once when I was 15 or so.

“Getting married,” he said, “takes away a lot of your options in life. Then having a kid takes away more options. Having two kids takes away even more options…”

It seems so hopeless. We grow up and do all the things we dreamed of doing, like getting a cool job and having a family, but we feel that our options are limited.

Perhaps it’s simply a spectrum of spontaneity to routine. Think of spontaneity as what it was like to be a child. You pretty much decided what you were going to right before it happened. Compare that to the elderly person who gets up and wears the same type of socks every day, goes to the same place, eats the same lunch every day. Routine, for some, is what keeps them alive.

But we can play with this spectrum. We can think of it like a lever: there are choices we have to make to keep our routines in place, and somewhere in the mess of things, there is a a space for spontaneity.

There’s a space to jump in puddles, to stop and stare at a piece of artwork in a cafe, to listen to the street performer. There’s a space to explore the one room in your house that you never visit, to take a tour in your own city, to eat something completely outlandish.

Routine binds the moments of our lives together in a way that makes sense, but spontaneity is what lives in the empty spaces.