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Stepping Out of the Routine

Many of us live in an world of regular routines and yet we have multiple opportunities to live in a world of new experiences. The familiar can limiting but the unfamiliar can open up many possibilities.

My daily exercise routine often takes the form of brisk walking through our neighborhood and then through an adjacent cemetery. The cemetery keep my cynicism in check as I am reminded of the whole above- and below-ground situation.

So, I take the same path every day because I like my routines – I like the familiar. However, the other day, my wife suggested we walk on the trail behind our neighborhood instead. Wives are good like that. Always pushing the envelope.

I know about these trails…sort of. I know about them the same way I know many of my neighbors. I know they exist but I don’t know their names, their professions, or what their hobbies are. Essentially, I don’t really know them.

So walking on the trail was a new experience for me.

Sugarland Run Trail

Sugarland Run Trail
Herndon, VA

The trail system is way more extensive than I imagined. The trails wind throughout the woods and in between neighborhoods. They cross the Sugarland Run stream frequently, and at times, you would swear you’re deep in the forest. Yet you’re only minutes from a major highway and a mere 20 miles from Washington, DC.

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 16 years but never considered walking on the trails. Go figure. In my mind, the trails seemed mysterious and unknown while my neighborhood sidewalks and the cemetery were familiar and part of my daily routine. Yet, once I walked the trails, I realized how wonderfully therapeutic this new option was – and it was there all along.

Routines give us comfort because they are reliable and familiar. But when we’re locked into them, we’re avoiding new growth experiences.

The musical director for KA, one of Cirque du Soleil shows, spoke at a conference I attended. He said that when they’re discussing a new show and someone comes up with an idea, no one in the room ever says, “we can’t do that.” Instead, they say, “how can we make that happen?” Their normal way of thinking is to get out of the routine way of thinking. That’s pretty cool.

I like my routines and I suspect that I will hold onto many of them. Yet I am constantly reminded of the benefits of new experiences. So, with the help of my envelope-pushing wife, I will try to break out of my routines whenever I can.

All it took to walk these new trails was taking the first step. That seems doable.

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