Every morning I get out of bed early to get a jump on the day. It’s usually dark outside. The sound of my feet hitting the cool hardwood floor is the same every morning. So is the ritual of reaching into the shower then gingerly jumping back to dodge the icy hiss of cold water, then waiting buck naked while it warms to a temperature better suited for humans. Even the towel feels the same as it scrubs the water from my back and arms and other places perhaps intriguing, I’d like to think, but not important enough to mention for the purpose of this article.
The tea kettle sounds the same. The eggs taste the same. My desk looks the same. My office chair feels the same as I lower my butt into position for another marathon day of making decisions, fixing pictures, editing video, or cleverly knitting words together so you don’t fall asleep reading them.
Routines are comforting, but they don’t inspire my best creative ideas.
Ana and I drove north on I-15 out of Vegas early yesterday morning in our tiny SUV loaded with us, our dogs and the kitchen sink. We struck out with Colorado in mind, for a business event in Denver with Blessed Bodywear.
We had booked flights but changed our minds at the last minute. A drive, we thought, would give us more time to talk and see something new, or at least something we hadn’t seen in a while.
A break from routine.
One doesn’t just dive into relaxing, as it turns out, it’s more akin to easing into a hot tub. We hadn’t breached the confines of Sin City when a business meeting broke out. We caught ourselves, finished our thoughts, then I threw out some inspiration for another topic. “If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?”
Ana gave it some thought and we politely talked about Greece, Spain, and Dubai for a couple of miles. Then Puerto Rico, Thailand, and Australia got their turn at a half-hearted effort. Then a text came in and Ana went to work. We drove on in silence, her thumbs and mind working feverishly, as the lifeless, inhospitable and endless desert crawled past the windshield. It was the most uneventful movie I had ever seen.
Ana hadn’t done anything wrong, if a text would have come me for me at that moment I would have done the same thing. The responsible thing. She had slipped effortlessly into the same old comfortable routine of work, then more work, then a little more work. One of the realities of owning a business together, and working from home.
When you head north on I-15 from Las Vegas you cross into Arizona for a few miles, then into Utah. It’s still desert, but something wonderful happens in Utah. Strange and magnificent rock formations start to appear. I noticed Ana set her phone down. We both relaxed and started talking about things other than work, and not a single word of it was forced.
The sky turned a brilliant blue, and the sun became warmer and brighter than ever. The once lifeless desert shed it’s drab and mundane coat revealing a rich earthen palette of browns, oranges, reds and shapes that captivated our imaginations. Nothing there felt like home.
We got excited, like two goofy kids getting away with something. We laughed so hard we had to pull over. We bought gas in a town called Beaver and for the next hundred miles cracked adolescent jokes. We shared dreams we didn’t know we had, and we got ideas, brilliant, exciting ideas that became monumental as our imaginations came to together.
I fell deeper in love with my wife seeing her come alive this way, and sharing it with me.
We stretched nine hours of driving into eleven by stopping to explore every nook and cranny that caught our eye. We never looked at the clock. We finally went to bed last night in a romantic little hotel in Aspen, Colorado. We cuddled like newlyweds, still giggling and talking about our day. We slept like babies and woke up more relaxed and excited for all that lays ahead than I can remember feeling before.
We broke from routine and did the inefficient thing, the thing that took more time and prevented us from doing more work. At one time I would have thought it the irresponsible thing. Instead, it was the absolute best thing for our happiness, our health, our love and marriage, and even our business I suppose.
I heard tale once about a lumberjack and how he ultimately cut more wood than the other guy because he stopped now and then to rest and sharpen his saw.
I’ve learned my lesson about sharpening saws, and I’m done being the other guy.