It’s always interesting to me when a set of routines begins to feel like a whole world or an entire life. Sometimes in those situations, I feel like I could continue with that routine for the rest of my days. But I am inevitably flung headfirst into my next adventure seemingly without warning or preparation and suddenly that existence which was my whole being seems fleeting.
It happens when I go hiking for an extended period of time. The lifestyle of hike, eat, sleep, repeat seems like it could be extended indefinitely. But I eventually end up back in my house, showered, sleeping in a real bed, and my whole hike almost could have not happened.
It is happening right now in Wooster, Ohio where I have been playing for the Ohio Light Opera since early June. I have spent over 2 months here but it feels like I have been here forever and could continue this job forever. But I know that soon enough I will be back in South Carolina thrust back into the academic life.
These transitions always come with a little bit of mild depression. It is like in grade school when the summer break is over and you have to shift back into school mode. A life or a world that I thought I knew is suddenly changed drastically.
I’m not sure where that sadness comes from. Either from missing the life I had, regretting that I didn’t appreciate it more during the moment, or just wishing I didn’t have to start studying for tests again.
But it is always accompanied by an excitement of doing something new. When I am hiking and have been going uphill so long that I am weary of carrying the weight of my pack, a downhill stint is always welcome. Similarly when hiking downhill, long after I stopped feeling the nerves around my toenails, an uphill shift is a beautiful sight. After days of hiking through dense forests, I love seeing an open meadow.
The excitement and the newness then takes on life and begins to overwhelm the sadness of leaving something behind. And I start to realize (or remember) that a set of routines that feels like a whole lifetime is an activity worth doing.
If 2 months in a small town in Ohio can feel like an entire world, it must have been full of meaningful experiences. If a 2-week hike feels like a whole existence, it must have been brimming over with excitement.
The forlorn feeling I experience when shifting routines is an indication of the quality of the event I am leaving behind. In the moment that I realize this, my sadness changes and allows me to appreciate everything I did.
And then I learn from those experiences, start a new routine, and the cycle restarts.
I certainly have learned a lot this summer in Ohio and look forward to the excitement of my next adventure.
(Featured image from http://www.crafthubs.com)