Sunday, May 29, 2005


" My life is made of Patterns/That can scarcely be controlled"
--Paul Simon

There is great comfort in patterns... I think that all of us enjoy a sense of stability, and the patterns that begin to define our days become remarkably stable. For my twenty-five years of high school teaching, I arose at precisely 5:24 a.m. during the school year; I left my house by 6:55 a.m. to ensure that I arrived at school early enough to allow me to focus for the day. When I retired from teaching in April of 2000 (I actually didn't retire until December of 2000, but that was just the formal retirement... my last day in the classroom was March 31st, 2000, so that seems like as official a place as any to mark a retirement), I left that pattern behind forever.

Sort of.

As it turned out, it took me more than three years to break the habit of waking at 5:24 during the week, even though I no longer had to. Even now, I find myself frequently rolling over and gazing at the clock within a minute or two of that time--but only during the week. On weekends, I never wake up particularly early... that's a pattern that I never could break.

As time progressed, though, my freedom from patterns led to the creation of more patterns. I walk about three miles twice a day--once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I follow that with the same weight routine. I get up at 6:10 every Tuesday to exercise and eat breakfast before going to the FedEx Freight hub in South Atlanta. I to go Dr. No's for a full day's work every Wednesday, doing order adjustments for my Marvel and DC books, placing reorders, and ringing up customers. I have a wonderful dinner with my closest friends every Wednesday night at the same restaurant we've visited for the better part of two decades. I go to the store every Friday evening to assist with the YuGiOh tournament. I do the bulk of my work on Comic Shop News every Saturday.


Dad retired from the newspaper business several years ago, when we all had hopes that he and Mom would use the time to travel, to golf, to enjoy the life they had earned. Emphysema had other plans for Mom, unfortunately, and the patterns they had envisioned never came to be. A new set of patterns was established for them... patterns that were broken only by the insidious downward spiral of emphysema.

After Mom had to leave us on December 15th, 2002, Dad's life was patternless for a brief time... but before too long, he had new patterns. He gets up at the same early hour every day; he joins his friends for coffee at Hardee's almost every morning; he makes the same rounds to the local grocery stores, WalMart, and Kmart. There's comfort in those patterns.

I used to think that nothing was more liberating than breaking the patterns. I'm not so sure any longer. The patterns give us a focus, a security that serves as an anchor. I remarked recently that my life was remarkably predictable.. but you know what? I don't particularly mind that; there's something about predictability that promises a tomorrow, and a tomorrow after that.

Oddly enough, though, we don't really develop the patterns. The patterns just develop on their own, and we drift in the flow, secure that we can predict its flow and direction.

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