Noticing

Sometimes when I wake up my mind is alert and active. I just want to get on with the day and get through everything on my to-do list. Other days, my mind is easily distracted. For example, yesterday morning, I spent what felt about ten minutes looking at the ripples projected on the ceiling from the light of our fish tank.

It’s on days like these that I feel like sacking everything off and going for a long walk. In fact, that’s exactly what I did last month and, as a result, discovered a dismantled railway less than five miles away from our house. The real problem, it would seem, is that that anything that looks or feels repetitive is absolute anathema to me. I also can’t stand to be constrained, either by other people’s requirements, or by the straightjacket of self-imposed routines.

Novelty is what I seem to be programmed to be on the lookout for. It’s certainly something I cherish. I’m not sure that I’m so different to everyone else in that regard, although I do sometimes wonder how people manage to stay in the same job for five years, or even a decade, at a time.

The thing I seem to be good at is actually a side product of this magpie-like search for novelty. It’s an increased tolerance for ambiguity; an ability to swim around in ideas and concepts not fully formed, sometimes with others, sometimes by myself. I suppose I just don’t like jumping to conclusions.

So on days like yesterday, when my mind seems to be particularly fond of pausing, looking around, and wondering, I’ve learned to just let it. Depending on how far down any particular rabbithole I’ve gone by breakfast time tells me whether it’s worth doing any productive work.

As it happened, my routines carried me through yesterday. Do this, and then that, in this order. “Ninety percent of success”, someone once told me, “is showing up”. And therein lies the rub for people who don’t see themselves as cogs in a machine.