Rhythm over Routine

I have been wanting to write on this topic for a long time. How often have we heard people use terms like “back to the routine..” or “back to the grind..” only to realize that they are talking about rejoining their jobs or regular work after, say, a long vacation or a set of holidays. Not that its the best of feelings, but I have serious dislike for this usage of the word ‘routine’. Its a word that has had its meaning pushed into the domain of negativity due to its blatant overuse!

I’m of the strong opinion that there is no such a thing as an ‘ordinary day’. Its more of a mental attitude, I suppose, than a realistic one. Each day is different in its existence. It makes you go through different experiences, teaches you new stuff about yourself and throws some unique challenges at you. The intensity may vary according to your line of work (or social status), but its there alright. Its up to you whether you want to overcome these challenges or completely sidestep them, if at all you recognize them in the first place, and that’s where personality comes in. Some people, even some of the learned ones, don’t realize this fact of life, which I think is a real pity.

The word I’d like people to use instead is ‘rhythm’. It is a phenomenon that surrounds us, and the word seems inspiring and energetic from its very utterance.

The rhythm of our heart and our DNA

We live by the beats made by our heart following a certain rhythm and its ironic how, unlike the negativity many people seem to attribute to the repetitive nature of life, we actually want the heart to beat in a normal regular manner. We term that as a positive. In fact, any irregularity in this rhythm raises an alarm! Similar is the case of the strands of DNA and the human genome that describes our very structure. It has lots of repetition throughout the body, and people are fine with that.

Dance rhythm

Rhythm is easily identified with music and dance moves. The very mention of rhythm in this sense of the word exudes energy, though the idea of music and dance routines is to be repetitive, to an extent. This is where creativity comes in, a corollary to the unique challenge I talked about earlier in the article.

Running rhythm

Sportsmen talk a lot about rhythm, be it in their training regimens or their performances on the field. Almost any sport you pick has an element of rhythm associated with it. Rarely would you come across a sportsperson calling his/her exercises as ‘routine’, even though the tasks might be repetitively same every single day and procedural in nature. Rhythm carries even more significance in the field of athletics, track and field events, and cycling. In the swimming arena, the strokes look beautiful when everything falls into place, when everything happens in unison every single time.

The same logic can be applied to our lives. Most of the examples mentioned here point to the concept of passion. Musicians and dancers are passionate about what they do. So are sportsmen. If ‘passion’ is too strong a word for you, replace it with ‘attention’ and the result won’t be very different. It would be quite unfortunate if we do not pick up on these signs and surrender ourselves to lethargy and the ‘routine’ of our daily chores.

Again, routine is something that exists, rhythm is something that we perceive. Rhythm is the co-ordination of action. As we go about our activities, this is the definition we should be identifying with, don’t you think?

11 thoughts on “Rhythm over Routine

  1. It was such a good read Nikhil. I love the way you think. And yesss I totally agree with your idea of rhythm over routine.. 🙂

  2. Fantastic approach and very matured thinking. I also like the way of writing, which urges the reader to think about the simple but true things about life. Very good!

    • Many ways to answer that question. Routine here would be a mere pattern, and then you’d need the right perspective coupled with an open mind to find a rhythm in it. On the other hand, if one goes into life seeking rhythm, routine / pattern will automatically be applied to one’s schedule. As I mentioned in the article, routine is something that exists and rhythm is something that one perceives.

      Routine, per se, is not a bad word. We software developers use a lot of this concept in our work. However, it is the lethargy and the “I-am-chained-to-this-stuff” or “I-give-up” attitude that people associate with the word that gives it a negative connotation. Some more energy (passion) and a ‘rhythmic outlook’ can pull anyone out of the quicksand and make life worthwhile!

  3. Hmm…Rhythm vs Routine. Who would have thought!! Nice one. I suppose there is a twist. Imagine someone listening to a genre of music for the very first time, and not liking it ? I have seen a few friends zone out when they came across to Indian classical and some others when they encountered Hard rock or metal.

    You know how the journey “back” always seems shorter, even if it took longer sometimes? I think its similar, when returning to the “grind” or “routine”. We all hate discipline, relinquishing control, allowing someone else to be in command of how you live your lives and work to fill someone else’s pockets. I guess that’s the main reason.

    Someone said find a job you love and you will never work a day of your live. I don’t think I have scaled close to that yet 🙂 I love my job, however, end up doing a lot of things not on my job description. Unfortunately the things I don’t like, are consuming more and more of my time 🙂 Its a good mix when you get to do something you love, and I can then run on empty. Its a great sense of achievement.

    Music is one of the most powerful instruments. Great analogy on the beat and DNA. Masterclass. Briliiant !

    • Muchas gracias 🙂

      Music is a very strong tool indeed. People can have different tastes in rhythm but true love for music is always passionate, and I feel that’s the dividing line between rhythm and routine. Sports is another domain I can think of on similar lines. Coming to the job scenario, I can see where you are coming from. 9 out of 10 times its always a compromise between what you’ve been asked to do and what you want to do, on the background score of the money you’re going to derive from the result. Its not all hunky-dory in freelancing either. However, I think that going in with a positive mind-frame (easier said than done) sets the rhythm. That said, its something I’ve blogged about here but frankly I too am trying to master the notion!

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