It’s quarterish to nine when the green man officially declares the start of my morning. Ready, set, walk! I clock in my time to the chook-chook-chooking sound of the pedestrian stop light. I walk, then sit across from him on the other side of the street, folding my legs, waiting for bus #14 to arrive. Unlike my playlist, I’m on repeat twenty-four hours later.
Routine. It’s an option I rarely consider by choice. As a restless person, either I get bored or excited too easily. There’s just too much to see! And I want to see everything.
Instead, I often use change as my compass, pointing me in the direction of self-awareness and mindfulness of my surroundings. There’s nothing like a change of scenery to sharpen the senses and learn something new.
This is because growth is the difference between two points — where you came from and where you are now. With so much of everything more accessible now, like travel, information, knowledge and people, the notion of staying put and settling down is just so passe. We don’t like waking up to routine because it’s boring. God forbid, am I boring?
But ever since I moved to Singapore one month ago (so fast!), routine has (ironically) been enlightening. It exposes patterns that change often blurs away. Repetitions that actually help you get to know yourself and your surroundings more intimately.
How long does it take to get to know a place?
This first month has been a funny kind of deja vu. “We become what we repeatedly do,” Aristotle said. Rather than a transcendental “This has happened to me before” feeling, it’s more like an “Why am I still doing this” irritation. It’s funny. Same shit, different country, even if moving is supposed to be the promise of new beginnings. I almost forgot how habits, both good and bad, can migrate with you. Did I move too close too home? Maybe. But it takes time and effort to do things differently.
I also notice the same people on the bus with me from the days or week before. Regardless of who they are and what their occupation is, I find it amazing how day in and day out one bus can sync the lives of strangers. We share a sense of routine that gets us all out of bed and on the same bus almost every morning. A routine that runs on the bus’ time and not necessarily just our own. Earlier or later, one second can prevent me from seeing that cute guy in a tie.
And on those mornings I take the same route to work. In Singapore, if you don’t have a smart phone or an innate sense of GPS (like me) then figuring out when to get on and off the bus will be difficult. After bouts of trial and error, there’s a joy in knowing where you are at the corner of your eye and not second guessing yourself. Sometimes the anticipation of bus stops sucks. Routine to the rescue!
“So, how’s Singapore then?”
People ask me this question a lot, which is normal, but I don’t know what to answer sometimes. This first month has been interesting and fun, especially on the weekends but I think it’s still too early to say.
I didn’t come here with expectations. With every month that passes by I’m building them, exploring the inner linings of my routine — habits I want to let go of and new ones I want to make. One month ago the green man let me cross, but I’m still on my way to the bus stop.