For the past few months, I have been diligently filtering through a variety of advice pages on routines, establishing priorities, and generally trying to get myself into some productive and (perceived) useful habits.
Now, after weeks and months spent getting some of these routines in place, forcing myself to be regular, marking crosses on the calendar, I find that I have a missed a day. I wasn’t being reluctant, I simply forgot: before I realised it, it was after midnight, and a day had passed without me doing what I’ve been trying to discipline myself to do all this time.
And the surprise is that it’s almost a relief. Why is that? Is it because I’m trying to establish a routine that isn’t worth much? Is it because I actually don’t want to be doing what I’m convincing myself to do, and perhaps have other things that are worth more?
Or is it perhaps simply that a change on occasion is a good thing, that it highlights the importance (or otherwise) of the task in question and makes it easier to prioritise amongst all the things that are a drain on already limited resources? Of course it would be best to have a routine that is unbreakable, something so intuitive and instinctive that I don’t even need to come up with a system to make myself adhere to.
In some ways, the task in question is already some of these things: after all, I realised that I had broken the chain, and the accompanying sense of something akin to guilt means that I do miss it emotionally when for some reason I don’t get around to it. In short, it puts the routine nicely into perspective, the relief coming from a realisation that routines are simply that, systems that are good to have but not forced upon one, rather a self-imposed task chosen out of want, not need.
Re-visiting a BBC Radio 4 – Start the Week podcast from late last year (28 October 2013) in the context of a story that is in a continual state of creation I was returned once more to the subject of the city, and how the individual interacts with the city.
Three main topics came up that are all inter-related and weave in and out of each other:
- Seeing the city – Seeing the city when you visit, and when you live in it. You see the city at different levels, you see different layers: different distances, perhaps, as visitors often see the up-close, the grime, the quotidien, whereas locals overlook these, at a different height, blending out the noise (different signal-to-noise ratio).
- Re-using old buildings, re-purposing: building life, or perception of people living in them? – Are old buildings worth saving? What constitutes the criteria for preserving something? Is it a feeling of an era, something representative, something that fits into a temporal environment? And so when moving out of this frame/window, what happens to the building? Does it become a museum, attracting visitors, or can the building be used again to attract people who will live in it (again, the immersion question)? And how is the feeling of the building perceived, depending on which it will be?
- Patrimonie, not heritage nor nostalgia – A call to define something that is not heritage (i.e., needs to be preserved as is) or nostalgia (i.e., go back to how they were), but rather that the old becomes incorporated into a library of “things” which the people living through an era, and those coming directly afterwards (since the effect wears off over time), share and can at any time dig into to root themselves, ground themselves, and find a framework.
Overall, the sense is one of what happens when one immerses oneself consciously in a city, beginning to see things that one might not have seen before. Light, layers, a built-up history of settings, buildings, an urban environment in which one is both forever a (transient) visitor as well as a permanent resident, leaving behind a scent, a trail, a kernel of existence.