Sat with Nat

Nat ponders the dilemma and delight of routines

Nat and Michel face the camera wearing grey toques and puffy parkas. Natalie’s lower face is covered by a mustard scarf, Michel’s a greying beard. They are dusted in powdery snow that also fills the blurry background of grey sky and naked brown tree branches. The couple looks content.

Recommended soundtrack: Voice of Baceprot’s cover of Testify. Really though, give it a listen and notice how it being performed by 3 Muslim women makes an old song completely new.

I’m well into my work from home pandemic routine life. There’s comfort in the weekday cycle of coffee, dog walk, eat, work, eat, walk, work, eat, walk then the subset of things that happen between 7-10:30 pm …. then sleep.

The weekends swap out “work” for “sacred duties” and that’s pretty much it.

I don’t naturally gravitate towards routine and plans. My beloved has always marveled at my capacity for chaos and spontaneous stuff, including gloriously restful days of naps, podcasts and crafts contrasted against days of gardening or hiking or singing or writing.

I think back to the first time I went to a yoga class. It was 1998 in a high school gymnasium through the Winnipeg community recreation program. 12 weeks of yoga where we painstakingly learned how to spread our toes, pull up our knee caps, slide our shoulder blades and other biomechanics in support of learning a short Sun Salutation. The instructor told us to do the same routine every day.

I rejected the idea outright. The SAME THING? EVERY day? BORING! I mean, wasn’t the point of exercise to have variety, gain new skills, advance and repeat?

My exercise routine prior to that was triathlon training in college. 5 days a week 5:30-7, 4-5:30 alternating swimming and weights in the mornings with running and cycling in the afternoons. We did long slow distance runs on Saturdays. Sundays were rest days.

But even within that variety there were 12 week cycles of baseline testing to get your minimums and maximums, focus on form, strength, power, cardio and tapering for racing season. Always different, always measuring, always with the goal of progress.

Nearly 3 decades later I now understand the wisdom of a daily yoga practice though I’m not doing that right now. It is about checking in and it is different because I am different each day. My body reacts in novel ways each time. The postures demand my focus and the world falls away.

Walking, on the other hand, feels automatic. The weather, clothes and quality of the light changes but the routes and effort don’t. It’s easy. It’s sometimes mind numbingly boring. I focus more on training our dog Lucy or talking with Michel. It’s our alone time as our 3 cohabiting adults are home due to the pandemic nearly 24/7.

The house we rent at times feels vast. That’s usually at cleaning time. Other times the walls close in. That’s usually when everyone is up and at’em in all the rooms. I retreat to my bedroom to knit/draw/nap.

I miss the variety of being in the office, my old routines. Talking with Titi who cleans and makes sure we have toilet paper in the bathrooms. Trading laughs with Jimmy, Mark and Rachel when I grab a coffee or food at the cafeteria. Sitting in my pod of 4 people having side chats as we work away.

Today is Saturday. The morning walk will be later, longer and unhurried with no meeting to rush back for. The meals will take longer to make and enjoy, the errands and chores can wait. I likely will only get 1 creative endeavor in, crochet or knit or draw or sing. There’s never enough time for all of them.

It is only a boring as I need it to be.