I’ve often thought it would be cool to have a place in the community where you could walk in and say, “I’ll have my usual.” Someplace where everyone knows your name. A casual place where things usually just flow, where you can expect to drink from the cup of kindness.
Usual is a cousin of Normal. There is a calm we get from familiar situations. My middle son and his lovely wife are building a beautiful life with my grandson. Before they were married, their relationship was stressed by long distance realities. Both had busy lives in two different countries. An ocean separated them! There were Skype calls and flight arrangements to be made. Even a language barrier to overcome. Their love grew despite all the challenges. When talk turned to choosing Canada as their place to live together, I remember asking them what they were looking forward to about their decision. They answered simultaneously, “Just to feel normal!”
A usual existence isn’t necessarily boring. The regular parts of your life can be anticipated with excitement, especially when you get to choose what those parts contain. Some couples thrive on weekly date nights for instance. Any routine that you can look forward to will add spice to your life. Several teachers I worked with in my career in education actually looked forward to September when they could ‘get back to normal’. I didn’t share that perspective but as a planner, I could appreciate the need for a structured lifestyle after the randomness of the summer months.
My sister often lived on the edge of chaos. Her unpredictable nature often made me nervous, but even her active personality needed times of surety. Like her mother before her, my sister counted on holidays to be just perfect. Perfection in this case meant that Christmas, for example, had to be exactly the same as last year. Variation would ruin the expectation and the expectation became the reason for the season. After my sister’s death, her only child made a wonderful decision on the following Christmas. My niece went on a trip to Thailand. From my viewpoint it was a reset: A very unusual and courageous way to declare her independence.
We all need our touch points of normalcy. My mother-in-law, at 94, cannot envision a week ending without her Fish Friday meal. She hasn’t worked for decades, and she is not a devout Catholic yet a dinner without fish as the main course on a Friday would throw her equilibrium out of whack. Likewise, James Bond must have his martini shaken, not stirred.
Thankfully, I don’t need a bar to go to at the end of a hectic day. I’ve enjoyed the regularity of family life despite those times when I would have liked to get away. When my existence gets too ‘same old, same old’ I count on my wife to suggest something that might mix it up a bit. I have found that contentment lies in the natural rhythms of being. Cheers!