Daily Doin’s & Dormant Habits

Our prolonged pandemic puts everybody’s daily schedule in semi-permanent shake-up mode. It’s forever Blursday, the 85th of Whenever. Mind you, being retired, that pretty much describes every day for me, and that isn’t even that much of a change from my years of managing my own time as a freelancer. Once you’re no longer tethered to a time-clock, you’re on your own figuring out how to structure your time to get things done without just drifting through the day, day after day. A set of specific activities to engage in daily helps. I like to think of my “daily doin’s” as rhythms, not routines but I sure have a few.

My morning rhythms start with coffee, of course, both in my cup and in my social media. See, I post a coffee meme every morning and people enjoy this. It’s a simple shtick, but once you get a shtick and you get known for that shtick, stick with your shtick. I post coffee memes every morning. Ask anybody online.

Then, I make note of who needs birthday greetings for their special day. Years ago, the steady stream of birthday wishes coming in all day while I was feeling particularly blue really boosted my spirits that September 24, 2010. So, I pay that feeling forward every morning with a quick “Happy Birthday!’ to today’s celebrants — with a meme, of course!

Once those two online tasks are  done, it’s on to my morning freewrite. I sit and write a thousand words of whatever comes tripping off the fingertips, a wake-up call for the semantic brain to rev up the circuits between thought and brain and fingers and written word. I used to think of it as a warm-up, but it’s not really connected to any further writing. I tried that and it ruins the spirit and rhythm of the freewrite in that it’s no longer open-ended. Somehow, I feel any warm-up should connect directly to some bit of targeted writing — the precise expectation and pressure that I seek to sidestep with the morning freewrite, where anything goes.

Other daily doin’s revolve around taking care of our pets, including taking Stella the dog for a walk. Add in meals and naps and that’s about enough structure for the average day for me. I don’t mind drifting through some days.

But that time-drift sometimes brings to mind some dormant habits. Specifically, I’m talking about doodling and playing the piano. Long-time readers here on the back porch might remember how I often wrote about doodling and shared quite a few doodles here along the way. Nowadays, I find that I rarely doodle.

What happened? Well, my doodling habit grew out of taking doodle-notes at meetings and conferences. Guess what I have not been going to recently? Oh, sure, I can — and do — doodle notes for some online presentations. But it’s just not the same. And like any muscle left unused, my doodling muscles have atrophied shamefully. I hardly doodle at all any more, even though I miss doing so.

The other dormant habit is one I probably haven’t even mentioned here. I’ve generally played piano only for myself, and rarely at that. But I always did love having a piano in the house. It just lends itself to sitting down and trying a tune or two. After years of childhood lessons, I can fake my way around a few songs and enjoy doing so. But the piano did not make the move to Colorado with us. Given we have no good place to put it, I don’t much miss it. But without the physical presence of the piano, I stopped playing altogether.

Sure, I’ve got a portable keyboard that’s got multiple voice settings and some amazing functions beyond simple keyboard. I bought a stand, figuring that maybe setting it up so it was always there, like a piano, would prompt me to play it some. Except that it really isn’t the same at all. A piano is a sturdy piece of furniture that can stand up to some banging on the keys. The stand shakes a little, so the keyboard moves slightly under my touch, something I am still not used to. The feel of the keys and the response are just fundamentally different than a piano’s response. At least two of the frequently struck keys are dead, which always throw me off. In short, I have found it difficult to deal with. It stands there, just a few feet away, almost taunting me.

So, I have determined to restore those two habits. I don’t have to play full songs at first. I don’t even have to play with both hands at first. Get used to playing melody lines with the right hand. Work in a few chords. Maybe add a bass note sometimes. Slowly. No expectations.

And pick up the pencil and doodle something!

Postscript: Just writing this blog post resulted in me playing a quick Beatles melody on the keyboard and draw this quickie cartoon, so, who knows? Maybe we’re on our way back to happy habits of daily doodles and playing the keyboard.

About bullersbackporch

I am a native Austinite, a high-tech Luddite, lover of music, movies and stories and a born trainer-explainer.
This entry was posted in doodle, music, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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