In truth, if you came here to find out how not to live a regulated life, by which I mean one not bound by routines and self-made Rules with a capital R, I may disappoint in what follows. Why? Because while I trust that my life, lacking as it is in almost all “regulated structure”, has a “mind of its own” and in that sense as much purpose as any other, I confess that this free-spirit eschewing of everything and anything routine is less by choice than by temperament.
Not that I have not tried, mightily, to instill in myself the values of routine, attempting to establish even one single habit that might tame a few of these impulses to spontaneity that don’t in fact help me. Okay, phoebe, be specific, name one! Well, in point of fact, i do not eat, sleep or even brush my teeth on any routine or scheduled or regulated basis….This is not troubling to me in terms of the first two: i live alone and have no intimate relationship, so when and where I sleep or eat is really nobody else’s concern. But my mouth is full of dental work that cost a mint, so the fact that I do not brush my teeth…period, let alone on a regular or scheduled basis could be seen as a problem. If it were not for frequent dental visits and a family who at least saw to it that my teeth were taken care of, I might be lacking them altogether.
But if my title above enticed you, you did not come here to read about my lack of dental hygiene or the drawbacks to living as I do, free of routines. One might see me as either free-spirited or run-amock, depending on how you perceive my life-style of spontaneously going with the flow and hoping for or anticipating the best outcome. As I said, this is not entirely by choice, as I seem to thrive (mostly) on doing things on a “what do I feel like doing now?” basis, rather than according to any schedule. Temperament? Most likely…though I can say that I was not always this way, or so comfortable with being and living the spontaneous life. As a child I was known as the Neatnik, the one whose room was meticulous all the time, and who knew where everything was placed or kept, down to the toothpicks in my antiqued-in-6th-grade-secretary-desk, lower left hand drawer, upper right quadrant, in a handmade box, next to the pen nibs in another box…(you see what I mean?)
if i used to be neat to an extreme and thrived on order, what the heck happened? I shake my head, wondering about the transformation myself…it may be that I was wrongly “typed” as the stoic, neatnik child, when my true nature was much more free wheeling. I know my parents had to pigeonhole each of us, their children, in order to “make sense of us” but did so on the basis of what they wanted to see not on what was there by nature. But maybe, too, there was a change as I grew up, either temperamentally or as a kind of rebellion, and assertion of who I really am.
Most or many people I know could not live as I do, and would neither want to or find it comfortable. I cannot seem to live any other way. But I will also say that if you are comfortable with routines and schedules, go for it. Find out who you really are and not who your parents decided you were, way back when. You can’t do more than survive, which is to say, you can only THRIVE when you know and are true to yourself and to what your needs and feelings are.
Sometime I will write about Nonviolent Communication and how it changed my life. Talk about not being spontaneous! This is a system and a tool for resolving interpersonal conflicts as well as developing a better self-rapport, and while you can learn to use it spontaneously , at first it feels rigid and constricting and even artificial. (But so what? I mean, baking bread is artificial, and so is using any electricity or a boat to ferry you across a river…what isn’t?). But those skilled in NVC are also some of the most accepting, tolerant and loving people I have ever met…so even if I do it on more or less spontaneous basis, i aim for such a state of being.