How to tell if your ritual is actually a rut 🔮
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Yesterday I ran the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon. It was my seventh time running the race, and I was not excited. Instead of daydreaming about crossing the finish line, I considered sleeping in and skipping the whole thing. (If I hadn’t already shelled out the $65 registration fee, I might have.)
I had a million excuses. This training cycle, like all training cycles, was plagued by minor injuries and illnesses. I was bored of running the same endless loops around my neighborhood. My toenails were just starting to look normal again. And did I mention this was my seventh year running the race? I had nothing to prove, no reason to do it again.
All week, I thought about the race as a metaphor for how good habits can sometimes hold us back. For example, I keep running the same half marathon, year after year, because it’s easy. The start line is just fifteen minutes from my front door. I know I can finish the race. The challenge of running 13.1 miles, in this case, is moot, as familiar as each turn along the course. Less like a ritual, more like a rut.
And then, yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 5am. I drank a cup of coffee and ate a piece of toast with peanut butter. Nathan dropped me off at the start line just as the sun was rising over Wrightsville Beach. The race began and the runners, all 3,600 of us, rushed into the streets like a slow moving river. We ran through our tiny beach town, crossed a bridge that carried us over the Intracoastal Waterway, made our way through a fancy gated community, passed the office park where I work, jogged along a wooded tail, and then finally made it to UNCW, the same campus where I earned my MFA five years ago. Nathan took an excellent photo of me as I crossed the finish line, and just like that number seven was done.
Now, a day later, I’m no longer thinking about good habits that need to be broken. Instead, I'm considering the power of ritual, even when it feels like a rut. There are benefits to running the same race over and over again. No matter how fast or slow I run, I learn something new about myself each time I step up to the starting line. Each year is unique, even when it's exactly the same. The difference is me.
Leading the Pack
The People Who Eat the Same Meal Every Day, The Atlantic. Speaking of routine... (Full disclosure: I eat the same thing for lunch almost every work day, and I love it.)
Why 4-Panel Comics Now Dominate Our Screens, Wired. I love Strange Planet and I love anything that combines narrative + the internet. Thus, I love this article. Also some good observations about storytelling in general.
The Aldi Effect: How One Discount Supermarket Transformed the Way Britain Shops, The Guardian. This is a long read but a good one - especially if you're as obsessed with grocery stores as I am.
✨ Snack of the Week ✨
These ABC bars from Trader Joe's are so good! They're filled with almond butter, coated with cocoa, and are the perfect blend of salty and sweet. I like to keep a box in my desk drawer at work, and at this point you're probably thinking my desk drawer is full of nothing but snacks. I'll be honest - you're not wrong. At any rate, these bars are great no matter where you stash them. Highly recommended!
A Tiny Challenge
The clocks have sprung forward, and we are officially living in the future. (Condolences to all my friends with small children - I know this is a tough time of year!) This week, let's use our extra hour of light for an evening walk. Bring your babies and your dogs, but leave your phone at home. Who knows - maybe it'll be the start of a beautiful tradition.
See you next Sunday! 💌
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