The merits of the mundane

In praise of the simple, the repetitive, the boring.

Yay for creativity and adventure, spontaneity and new things, risk-taking and growth, diving headfirst into the unknown.

But also, yay for rest. Praise be for the comfort of the familiar. Yes to not having to make decisions all the time. Yes to the comfort of the familiar. Yes to routines that conserve our energy. Yes to rituals that ground us and maintain the rhythms of our life.

The mundane is easy to ignore and easy to resent. I don’t want to get stuck in a rut. I feel tied down if my rhythms are too repetitive. I might even mock a life that I deem boring because of its predictability.

But the repetition of life, the boring stuff, serves me. The mundane makes up the structures I depend on.

Routines are mile markers in the day: at a glance, I can see where I am. They ground me. I putter around the kitchen every morning not because the world will end if I don’t, but because I am feeling my way back into the world, into this morning, this day.

Rituals insert the hush of awe and a touch of the sacred into work and play, reminding me that life has the meaning I give it. Lack of ritual can tell me what I’m not taking time to value. Am I rushing through my personal care to answer more emails? This tells me something important, something I believe internally whether or not I say it out loud. I don’t want to believe that answering an email is more important than caring for my body. Now I can see that belief and institute a ritual: let me slow. Let me pause. Let me put care where care is needed and deserved. Let me line up my daily, mundane choices with a deeper, cosmic understanding of worth. Ritual is a tool, a level, a way of aligning the internal with the external.

Maintenance tasks—like washing the dishes, folding the clothes—not only keep the basics of life functioning, but they also honor life itself. We are not too good for any of this. We are blessed to be here. Let me remember this as I wipe the table. Let me remember this as I sweep the floor.

Everything takes energy.

Repetition used wisely funnels my energy into a focus. I may listen to the same music for months on end: one playlist for running, one playlist for focused writing, one playlist for administrative tasks. The music tells me what I’m doing.

It’s a backdrop, so maybe it’s not essential; but having it there saves me thought and energy… which means I have more energy to spend on the running, the writing, the tasks.

Repetition opens crazy doors, too. It gets wild in the land of repetition. You wouldn’t believe. Try it: do something consistently, repeating daily for a significant length of time. Things will happen. Energy builds with repetition, value accumulates, and suddenly you find yourself vaulted into some new, open, amazing place.

The mundane is magic. Respect it.