Routine Isn’t Necessarily Routine

Things change.  On Wednesday, we enjoyed seventy degree temperatures with the sun shining, but late tonight the severe thunderstorms have rolled through, a precursor of the wintry mix and high in the thirties predicted for Thanksgiving day.  I want yesterday back!  I’ve heard numerous meteorologists talk about the departure of the beautiful weather, and seen countless deprecatory posts about it via the online social networks, but I’m fairly certain that no one I know will be rewinding the film, unraining the rain, unflashing the lightning, and uncovering the sun for today’s weather.  We’ll endure the cold and whatever precipitation comes from sky, simply because the change in the weather is inexorable, asking no one’s permission and concerned about no one’s opinion.  Change happens in spite of our wishes or hopes and we learn to live with it.

I admit, I’m a creature of habits, from my bedtime, to my work routine, to the type of toothpaste that I brush with.  We are comfortable with routine.  We find a solace in sameness, which shifts in the pattern disturb.  We equate routine with normalcy and change with upheaval.  When presented with a choice, invariably, I will choose the former.

But the fact is, all of life is about change.  From the cradle to the grave, our existence is marked with revisions and transformations.  And all of our life, we resist it.  The little baby would be perfectly content to lie in bed and be changed, and fed, and pampered, but we urge him on.  We hold the bottle just out of reach so the child will begin the radical undertaking of moving his hands toward the bottle to bring it closer.  When the baby is ready to walk, we move away from him to encourage him to put one foot in front of the other.  And, he follows, complaining all the way, whimpering for us to put things back like they were.  Oh, once the steps are taken and the pain of the transformation from crawler to walker is passed, he embraces the new routine and can’t be stopped, but he has to be pushed and prodded every step of the way right out of the cradle and into the great, big world.  And the process never stops.  Some of us embrace change more than others, but there still must be a strong motivation.  Thrill seekers choose the path they take because, at some step of the way, they became accustomed to the rush, the jolt of adrenalin, and they are pushed to bigger and better activities simply because the addiction demands it.  All through our lives, we move only because some strong force give us the impetus to do so.

The first of Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion, the Law of Inertia, plays a big part…“Things at rest tend to stay at rest.  Thing in motion tend to stay in motion.”  We’re not all that different from all other things in nature.  We want to sit still!  Fan motors require a capacitor (simplistically, a power boost) to get started, even if they can run for hours without needing any stimulus beyond the regular motor turning.  It takes much more torque and therefore, more fuel to get a car moving than to keep it cruising at a constant speed.  We humans are a lot like that, maybe not quite as simplistic, since our motivators aren’t always physical.  But once we get moving and are kept properly motivated, we’ll keep moving for as long as the motivation is appropriate.  Of course, we also know from science that there is no such thing as perpetual motion.  Everything eventually slows to a complete stop once the energy source has been removed. 

What’s the point of this science lesson?  You might well inquire.  Today is Thanksgiving, a day of both feverish activity and, later on, of an almost universal comatose state (for most adults anyway).  In the morning, we rush around in preparation, moving tables, cleaning the special dishes, cooking, and tasting (I like that part!) and setting the table until it seems that it will buckle under the burden.  The motivation is the anticipation, the expectation of the feast to come, shared with family and friends, mixed with the expressions of gratitude and the companionship of kindred spirits who understand that the bounty we enjoy comes from above.  One of my favorite quotations from the Bible comes from the book of James 1:17…“Every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”  Together at the meal we enjoy collectively, we celebrate His bounty in every way.

Of course, what follows is also proof of the science lesson, since most of us will find a place to settle, some in the den with the television, some in various seating (or reclining) arrangements throughout the rest of the house, but all of us settle in.  The motivation has faded, the contentment of being stuffed (much like the turkey was earlier) ensues, and the juggernaut comes to rest, having expended its energy, and is satisfied to remain stationary for the time being.

Yes, change is inevitable, but today, I wish to speak for the ebb and flow of traditions, the joyous celebrations of gratitude, of family, friends and of rest after labor.  May your commemoration of thanks be blessed with His presence!

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse!  As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.”
(Washington Irving, American author, 1783-1859)

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