July 24, 2007

Nothing Quite Like Turning

There is nothing as dull and banal, and dare I say perfect as a routine. As a young, I guess I should say younger man, a predictable habitual lifestyle was like an anathema to everything I found important. I prided myself on spontaneity, impulsivity, and a live-in-the moment existence. The very idea of routines was the equivalent of death to me.

There is nothing quite like turning thirty, getting married, and having a baby to change the way a person sees everything. I am not here to espouse the idea that with age comes responsibly, or the ever so popular suggestion that we cannot simply wade through life only thinking of ourselves, that we must grow up at some point. No I am here to state that it is possible to develop, and yes even enjoy routines and a more sedate lifestyle, without feeling like your life is over. There is a middle ground between getting drunk on Tuesday mornings and passing out naked on your deck before noon and being buried in some bizarre suburban landfill death.

I have been in New York City now for two-weeks. It is amazing how structured my days have become. I wake up around 6:30 am courtesy of our baby alarm clock and take my daughter for a walk. (Actually this is every other day. My wife and I alternate and some days I can sleep in to the lazy hour of 8:30) Then it is back home for some play time and her morning nap, at which time I read, take a nap or doing some writing depending on my energy level. Around noon, it is time to shower and head off on our morning activity. Usually we head to a site in Brooklyn and try to be home by three for her afternoon nap, because a cranky, tired baby on the F train is no fun for anyone.

Yesterday, we went to a trendy little neighborhood called DUMBO and enjoyed the sun and water and the views.

Once home Kaia is back to sleep, hopefully for an hour, and after she wakes up, we are off for our afternoon walk, which usually consists of walking down Fifth Avenue and then back up Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. We get some ice cream, look into the shops and enjoy the sun as it brings about the soft glow of early evening and struggles to toss out the last of its heat. Our trip usually involves stopping at the bookstore where we toddle around the children’s section before we head home. Once home it is time to listen to some music, dance, play, eat dinner, and take a long bath. Kaia and I play in the tub then shower to rinse off. After she is asleep, my wife and I eat dinner, watch a movie, and head off to bed around ten.

I wish I would slow down and go into detail about how each of these seemingly mundane activities actually fills me with awe and wonder. It is so amazing to spend this time with the two people I love most and watch as we all grow as individuals and as a family. I wish I would write a bit about how I sat at the park at 7 am the other day watching Kaia play with a boy named Evo as his dad and I talked about how to help kids learn to share. I wish I could explain the thoughts in my head as I watched the clouds float over the scene below and felt as if my life, for that one instant was perfect.

I am not sure how I would have reacted to this scenario when I was twenty-two, but these days it feels pretty good. I have a friend who is currently in Brazil, sending me emails about how he is partying all night with strangers and whizzing through the streets of Sao Paulo. While his tales of adventure still keep me in their gravitational pull, I am left wondering would I trade my five o’clock walk for a night in Rio, and I am quite certain that my answer would be no.

I don’t ever want to be the sermonizing family man who says that everyone needs to grow up and accept his or her responsibility. I think people who preach in that vain do it out of frustration. I, on the other hand, am simply saying that for me, establishing these routines has proven helpful. I am learning to understand that life is lived in awareness and mindfulness of what we face everyday, not in searching for it beyond our daily routines.

Having said all that, I still have a soft spot for adventure and explortation. My entire life is sitting in a container in Malaysia waiting to be shipped off to a country in the Middle East I have never set foot in, and I have been living out of suitcases for the last two months, so I guess my sense of adventure is still more attentive that most people’s. As I mentioned earlier, there has to be some kind of moderation in life and as long as you are living mindfully and actively making decisions that affect your life you will be living it fully.


  1. welcome to new york bz!!!! speaking of weather (from your previous post) it has rained here all day. i am beginning to feel like noah- or noah's wife rather :) i know what you mean about the subtle beauty of routine. routine is just a structure- and a flexible one at that- within to live life to the fullest. how can you truly slow down enough to enjoy the beauty of a sunset or watch a butterfly land on a flower- or just feel the sun on your face-- if you are racing around? there is something to be said for 30 something :) you are still young enough to enjoy but old enough to fully appreciate routine. it about that time that you begin to realize what is truly important in life.

  2. structure makes room for vast amounts of spontaneous existence.

  3. i second ALL of your post j. and vesper's comment too.
    you adapt so quickly to new surroundings, it's wonderful. kaia, like a sponge, must be growing taller and smarter every day with all this wonderful stimulation... and her mum and dad right there every day. enjoy every second.