We do not like our ritual broken.
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As I was growing up, it was impressed upon me that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. We therefore always had something to eat before going off to school, be it eggs, oat meal, cereal, pancakes, etc. You have to remember this was well before the advent of toaster strudel or instant French toast or waffles. I don’t know which was more important though, eating the meal or sitting down with the family before we all scattered to the four winds. Breakfast was useful for me to wake up and converse with other human beings before I had to face the rest of the world. My parents made sure I was properly prepped for the day. I therefore concluded the value of breakfast was not so much the meal itself, but that it put me in the proper frame of mind to tackle my assignments for the day.
A lot has obviously changed since then, but I find we all have some sort of ritual we follow in starting the day. As for me, I shave and shower early. For some reason, the water invigorates me and I start thinking about what I have to do for the day. I also start to think about ideas for a column, perhaps resulting from a leftover dream I was just having. After I get dressed, I go out and retrieve the morning newspaper. Rarely, if ever, do I have breakfast anymore. I’m just not hungry, but crave a cup of coffee instead which I usually drink black.
It’s still nighttime when I drive to work. I like it this way as there are hardly any cars on the road. I keep a handheld tape recorder nearby to record any pertinent notes or thoughts I don’t want to forget. After arriving, I start the coffee for the day, and open the office. It’s still nice and quiet. I then check voice mail and my backlog of e-mail messages. If I have a column ready, I post it accordingly. By 7:00am I have accomplished quite a lot and am now in the proper frame of mind to address the remaining items on my list for the day.
I don’t like it when my morning ritual is upset, and I don’t believe any of us really do. We have just arisen for the day and are trying to find our stride. If we don’t, the rest of the day can become rather miserable and convoluted. Consequently, we develop familiar routines that put us on autopilot until we can start to become productive. On commuter trains you see people sleeping, reading the newspaper, finishing the crossword puzzle, reading, listening to music, or reading their e-mail on their smart phone. It’s all rather quiet though.
For those commuting by automobile, you see people drinking coffee, shaving, touching up their makeup and hair, talking on their cell phones, or listening to their radios or CD players. The only problem here is if someone doesn’t pay attention on the highway he will likely disrupt the routines of a lot of other people, not just himself.
There is one custom I firmly believe you should do to start your day, and that is simply to pay a bill. It forces you to think about your economic situation, thereby influencing your priorities and points you in the proper direction for the day. Believe me, writing a check in the morning can motivate people a lot better than anything you can eat for breakfast.
Keep the Faith!