Some people might say that repetition is the death of creativity.
Look at me, for example. I get up every morning at about the same time, go downstairs, put on a pot of water for the coffee, feed the cat who’s mewling at the door, pour half a coffee cup of orange juice to take my three vitamins with, go upstairs to start writing this blog, run downstairs when the tea kettle whistles, make my coffee and …after putting 1/2 an inch of half and half in my coffee cup that I used to drink my orange juice (I rinse it out after the orange juice), I go back upstairs to wait for the coffee to be ready to drink…and I write this blog.
Every. Single. Freaking. Day.
Unless…I’m running ( I took a short break for a cold that featured a weird metallic hacking cough). If I’m running I do all that after I go out for my run.
I won’t bore you with the details of my running preparation.
So…I’m a creature of habit. I don’t count my cheese puffs like Raymond in that Tom Cruise movie…but I’m almost as bad as that.
Always the same.
I was thinking about repetition the other day, and I thought of my father again.
I’ve mentioned that my mother was “physically challenged” the last 15 years of her life. (I almost used the phrase “an invalid”…we’re so sensitive about what’s politically correct, calling each other out for phrases that might slander or irritate certain groups…careful with our words…but unaware of what we’re really saying when we say things like “invalid”. It’s not like we went to the library to hear them say, “Would you like me to VALIDATE that parking ticket for you?”….”No, thankyou…I’m an INVALID…doesn’t work for me. Thanks, anyway…” INVALID? What the heck? It’s kind of like certain “groups” are outside our awareness of what might be an insensitive thing to say….weird. )
Anyway, she needed help sometimes.
My father worked for ATT at a facility about 8 miles from our house. He worked it out with his boss that he could take a longer lunch break so he could come home and help my mother…and then make up the time at the end of the day.
Here’s where the repetitive part comes in.
For, what?….12 years or so, I guess…he would drive home, help mom, make sure she was alright and had what she needed until we got home from school, and then he’d make a bologna and cheese sandwich, grab a coke out of the refrigerator…and head back to work.
I think he ate his sandwich on the trip back so he’d be ready to do whatever he did for ATT when he got back to the office.
Every day during the week, he’d make the drive home and do his routine.
It says in the Bible that there’s no greater love than being willing to lay down your life for a friend.
I used to think that was for soldiers or people who could jump in front of a bullet for someone.
I thought it meant saving a life by giving up your own.
I thought it meant actually dying for someone else.
I understand it a different way now.
Nothing is heroic in the day-to-day. It’s just our lives…it’s what we do between breaths. We don’t see the heroic until we’ve had a chance to distance ourselves a little.
A bologna sandwich is not a dramatic image of heroism.
It’s just part of a routine.
It’s part of a long-term routine done out of necessity and consideration…and love.
I have a deep and everlasting respect for every “caregiver” I meet out in the world. That’s a beautiful thing for people to do for each other.
Maybe waking up in a different country every week, picking up local habits and languages as you go…eating new foods and dealing only with the unfamiliar…maybe that’s creative. Being an unstructured nomad with nobody to think about but yourself has to be creative…it sure sounds like a creative way to live, anyway.
I’m sure it is. It has to be creative.
Never retracing your steps is one way to be creative…it’s always a new thing.
But the constancy of a loving caregiver…that’s what really impresses me.
Maybe I’ll eat a bologna sandwich for lunch today.
And…maybe I’ll do it again tomorrow.