Someone famous (the Internet attributes everyone from Albert Einstein to Benjamin Franklin, so who knows?) once said, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
I think about my daily life and its routine. I wake up, get ready, drive to work, work all day, drive home, get ready for the next day, go to bed, and do everything over again the next day and the one after that and the one after that. Occasionally my evenings are peppered with classes or dinners with friends, and on the weekends I like to the theatre or a sporting event. But for the most part, my life is predictable.
So as I wait (as I believe many young people do) for "the next big thing" to happen in my life, I shouldn't be surprised that something new and exciting is unlikely to happen to me by doing the same things over and over.
This week I'm on vacation. On this trip, as with any other I've taken, I find myself torn between relaxing and exploring. Catching up on sleep and packing as much into a day as possible. So while I relished the idea of a lazy morning, I was more interested in the unexpected. It was time for different results.
Though I like to think of myself as a morning person, those mornings rarely begin before seven. Today, however, I woke up at five o'clock and dressed by the light of the fireplace in my hotel room. I enjoyed a quick breakfast there as well, then grabbed my camera and headed out into the still-dark morning.
Now, I'm no sunbather, but I've always loved the ocean. I love the sound the waves make as they rumble along and crash into the surf and the rocks. I love the smell of the salt water, the briny air, and coconut-scented sunblock. I love sticking my toes in the cold surf, finding bits of sea glass, and searching for shells. So I chose this vacation spot to try to sneak in some time with the beach before the summer crowds hit.
When I reached the waterfront this morning, it was completely deserted. Not a single soul was walking or running along the beach, and the birds weren't yet awake. I breathed in the salty fresh ocean air and smiled. It felt incredibly indulgent to have the beach to myself and I took the time to drink in my surroundings. Here was the ocean, stretched before me (and only me): a deep dark line and a slightly lighter blue one, split across the horizon by a tiny strip of pinkish orange.
I took a hundred photos of that sunrise. As dawn broke brighter across the sky, joggers and dog walkers started to speckle the path along the beach. Most of them looked like they were engrossed in their own routines; I suspect I was the only tourist among them. And I wondered if they were appreciative of the beauty of the ocean and the sunrise, or if this was merely their own version of the same thing over and over again. If I spent each morning greeting the sun on the beach, would I feel as though I have achieved my "next big thing"? Or would that, too, become a piece of my day to day routine, easy overlooked and under-appreciated?
I like to think that not only can I do different things for different results, but I can do the same things differently. I'd like to appreciate the little things in my life that seem monotonous, but really do bring me a lot of joy. I love waking up to the sun streaming in my window each morning, and I'm forever grateful to see the Boston skyline each morning as I drive into work. I'm lucky enough to have colleagues with whom I get along, and a family that loves me. So while I try new things and pack in new experiences, I'm also going to make a new experience out of the routine. It's my hope that just by looking at things differently I'll be able to produce a few new results. That way, I don't have to wait for the next big thing to happen to me -- I can go looking for it.