artist/scholar, educator, writer


Rhythm & Routine

I’m sure that each individual has a unique relationship to rhythm and routine. Today I’m thinking about the difference, as I perceive it, between rhythm and routine. Routine, the word, to me connotes a kind of fixed structure or regimen, a container into which I must fit myself or discipline myself to function. I have definitely been known to say “I love routine” or “I need routine” and I wonder, today, whether I really do or not. Similarly, when I think of the word rhythm, I definitely have a sense of pattern and regularity or repetition of a kind like I have with the word routine, yet also within the word rhythm, I feel a sense of flow, of dynamism, of pace and momentum. Rather than a container into which I must fit – i.e. routine – I understand rhythm as a supportive kind of energy that I can ride, that will carry me along, provided I listen and find the groove. Breakdancers talk about being in the “pocket”, which I understand to mean being “inside” the beat, supported or carried by the rhythm.


Routine also relates to dance in terms of a set or series of steps to be practiced and repeated. It suggests also a route, a path or map of directions to follow, something that is articulated externally to oneself and to which one relates or takes direction. Rhythm as I’ve already noted, relates to dance too, and some might say it is also articulated externally to oneself, typically through music. However, music is not required to establish a rhythm; rhythm can be a felt, embodied energetic flux that can be established, maintained and varied without any external stimulus. Perhaps one could make the same argument for routine, but somehow, I still think of routine as something that is prescribed, predetermined and set down somehow outside oneself, as a tool to use, versus an experience to embody.


I’m going to play with these ideas in my daily life as I consider which, in fact, I need most for quality and effective action, or perhaps which serves me best, or possibly even how the two work in complement to support and guide me forward in my actions and relations.

ReflectionsMegan Andrews