Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Change is good

I am trying out a new workout routine. It calls for working out until every muscle in your body aches on one day then taking a day off. Rinse and repeat. As someone who, in the words of H.H. Munro, shall never see 40 again, it is a real challenge to try and make some sort of muscle gain. Not that I am planning on ever getting to the point of being mistaken for a body builder, but I have determined that I would like to, if not defy gravity, at least put up a spirited fight. The fly in the ointment is that I have my routine and it just grates to have to change the way I have been doing things on auto pilot for the past several months. The fact is that, as much as we might complain about being in a rut, we like our ruts. They are a comfortable place, and offer us reassurance that each day is going to be a safe place that is pretty much the same as yesterday was.

The reason I am boring people with the details of my workout is that it is bringing to the fore, for me, how much people are creatures of habit. A good example is that when I walk to the gym in the morning I take a straight shot up Boylston St. Currently, they are constructing the new Mandarin Hotel at the Prudential Center. For months I have been walking up that side of the street. For the past few weeks I have had to cross the street for that block. It just gets on my last gay nerve. It doesn't take any more time, or in any way effect my walk, it's just not "my" route. I mentioned this to one of the professors I work for. He laughed, because he has his own mindless routines and then told me that he is in the habit now of observing his students from day one of class. Apparently, the kids will file in on the first day of class, choose a seat, and from then on, for the rest of the semester, that is "their" seat.

Maybe that is how we make the remarkable normal so that we can keep moving on with our lives. ATM's, cell phones, the internet, home computing, digital cameras are all the type of technological wonders that were, when I was a kid, the pipe dreams of sci-fi. Now, they are the common place. Like I said, reducing these things to the mundane makes them manageable so that we are not overwhelmed and it clears the way for whatever comes next down the pike.

The downside of this is that we are also willing to simply accept more insidious trends that start seeping into our common experience. Allowing the government to invade our privacy to fight the war on terrorism. Electing a president who said the constitution is just a damned piece of paper. Accepting the idea that we have some sort of divine right of kings to impose our ideas on the rest of the world, and if they don't like it too bad about 'em. Will we accept that here in the land of the free that what we will be free to do is, to do as we are told by our government without question?

I am shaking up my routines. I am changing my workout to see if I can make some type of physical change. I am shaking up my walking route, to see if even in a small way I can start looking at my city from a different perspective. Election season is coming up, maybe we should all see if we can shake up the way that those we entrust with our civic and national well being can do things differently, and possibly better for us all. Hey, change is good!