It’s easy to fall into a routine. In fact, in some ways, I believe it’s necessary to live a normal life. I also feel equally convicted that the routine needs to be interrupted for the sake of our sanity, too.
Do you ever have those moments where you realize the cycle has been interrupted? It’s like a small waking up, and you notice you’ve arrived in a new place, had a conversation you didn’t expect to have, were surprised by something.
It always hits me when I’m somewhere I’m not supposed to be. I don’t mean that in a sketchy sense, like a teenager sneaking out to go to a party. I did have an example recently, though, where I consciously felt out of place and had that “break the cycle” feeling.
I ended up in Tuscaloosa on a Tuesday night, which is out of the ordinary for me to begin with. I attended a recruiting event, and as I was leaving town I decided to drive by a small tavern we frequented in college, The Alcove.
I’m driving down the road that would take me to the interstate. Something in my mind thought, “Oh yeah, I just remembered I’m near The Alcove. I’ll just drive by.” I turned on the next cross road and shortly arrived in front of a place that mostly just lives in my college memories now.
I immediately felt a little more alive. The narrative of the path I was on had me merging onto the interstate right about the time as I was pulling into a spot instead. The cycle was briefly interrupted.
As I pulled up, I I could hear faint music coming from inside. Even through the walls, I could tell what it was. I remembered Tuesday nights were jazz nights. I had to go in, if only for five minutes.
As I walked in the music grew louder, and I took a seat. The band, the bartenders, and the patrons were all different, and I felt just a tiny tinge of sadness just from the simple reminder that life moves on. I understand why so many turn the past into the “glory days.”
More than anything, though, I felt grateful. First for the memories and second for this tiny pocket of time, hardly a blip in light of a lifetime, that I could sit and enjoy a completely unplanned, unexpected moment.
A few short minutes later, I got back in the car and resumed my routine: go home, go to sleep, wake up to go to work the next day. But...this time, I rejoined the routine with a fresh reminder to be always be ready to let it be interrupted.