Are you predictable? We all are to some extent. Work and leisure patterns define our days: our habits ingrained for reasons of convenience or comfort. And – on the odd precious occasions when given free choice – we impose our own relentlessly prejudicial structure or allow the underlying script aiming toward achievement to colour the opportunity.
It’s human nature… it makes us feel safe and secure in a world of nasty surprises. Taken to extreme the individual disappears beneath a mountain of ritual that is both destructive to the soul and utterly restrictive in allowing any craved for break from the shadows of the daily grind. Change may be a thing of fear but routine is the real serial killer.
An intellectual or psychologically healthy life should have some ambivalence other than intermittent scheduled and pre-programmed release valves whether they be student gap years, hen and stag weeks, playing a sport or a night out with the boys/girls. We should not need designated times to relax and go crazy – it’s as if the process of breaking the monotony has to have set boundaries as well.
It’s not necessary to demolish the house to give yourself room to expand. Try to grow too much at once and the roof can fall in. To grow exponentially just add something enigmatic to your daily mix or even if that is too much try once a week: only make sure it isn’t the same day every week. It’s not necessary to move neighbourhood; leave the country; to commit to a course of study; or take up an obscure hobby to reap the benefit – though if you must…
Simply watch a foreign or ‘difficult’ film… I like a movie to have a beginning, middle and end as much as the next person but not necessarily in that order every time. A great script or an incredible acting performance will lift a mundane plot but how many regular films have one or both? Escapism doesn’t have to be predictable because some marketing guru has decided as much. It’s like going the same route to work for years – at least there is a reason for that – but away from such necessities why would you always want to know exactly where the journey is taking you?
Break the mould of making money for the same limited people and the classic stranglehold we’re always told – that popular culture is predictable because we crave it that way. Be adventurous in selection… It’s great to approach a familiar subject or genre from another cultural perspective. Especially where the imagery and nuance is enough to be genuinely life-affecting or to lose oneself while forgetting any troubles for an hour or two – same goes for that novel you nearly picked up or always meant to read beyond the daily commute. Try reading a play aloud and satisfy that long-held desire to be an actor: great if you want to be someone else for a while or you just love accents or the sound of your own voice.
If for reasons of fitness, clearing your head or relaxing you walk or run – go in the opposite direction for a change… you’ll be amazed at how different the world looks from the other way round. Whatever you do, get yourself away from comfort films, ritualistic diversions; even comfort friends who have limited horizons – not just geographically – but in how receptive they are in their heads.
Like comfort food these things are a welcome treat now and again but a diet consisting exclusively of highly processed nutrition ultimately makes you fat, irritable and struggling with indigestion. The mind and soul need roughage as much as the gut and bowel. And if you can’t help but return to what you know and like at least you return refreshed and with new eyes without being taken for granted.
In fact get away from the fast food visit or the sandwich bar altogether for just one lunchtime – go to an art gallery instead. Never heard of the artist? Never mind – go back to work with your perspective rewired. Listen to your i-pod in your break? Next time you download try the old record store trick: get one you know, one you’ve been recommended and one that you like the sound of because of the name of the band, their picture or a vibe in your dreams – whatever takes your fancy.
Why not buy a different newspaper or magazine? It may be the polar opposite politically or to your usual sphere of interest but you’ll be amazed what you can find out or be stimulated by in a welcome rest from your usual personal ghetto. Take a holiday in your own mind. Always talk to Jim at work about football then shock him with something else entirely. Never have a conversation with Claire beyond pleasantries – try one. You never know where opening your mind will lead and it’s all change you’re in control of.
In a world of incredible instantaneous interconnectedness it is a patent absurdity to keep clicking away at the same limited palette of experience. There’s a big enigmatic world out there just waiting to be discovered. Cancel the health and safety remit for your life. Be open. Be brave. I’ll see you down the front of the Swedish film group’s next meeting. Oh, and be sure to say Hi…