JENELLE CARTER

Cultivating novelty

Feb 23, 2021 | Newsletter, Writing

In November of last year my cat was diagnosed with kidney disease. He got very sick and needed constant monitoring. This led to me hauling a futon into the living room to camp out with him for a few nights until his system settled down a bit. Those days and nights were extremely difficult for me, not knowing if he was going to make it and not being able to do anything to help him. But in the midst of the fear and emotions as I set up a bed in the living room on that first night, there was still something a little fun and exciting about camping out. I love moments where I still get to be a kid and despite everything going on, there was anticipation reminiscent of a childhood sleepover. The act of camping out in the living room took a normal, unchanging daily routine and made it novel.

I’ve been thinking a lot about novelty lately. With the one-year mark approaching for the quarantine lifestyle we’re currently living, things are certainly getting monotonous. Even with my many interests and never-ending lists of things I want to create and work on and learn, lately I’ve been feeling like things are becoming increasingly mundane. It’s easy to make excuses and blame lockdowns, but the reality is that there are plenty of ways to make life less mundane each and every day, pandemic or no pandemic.

It’s easy to fall into repetitive routines. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; habits and routines save us time and energy and willpower that we can then put towards the things we care about. But if you’re anything like me, you get stuck in the monotony and don’t make a concerted effort to get out. The funny thing is, every time I’ve done something novel (which is not very often), I’ve always reflected on how enjoyable the experience was and wonder why I don’t do things like this more often.

Cultivating novelty.

That’s what’s I want to aim to do. The problem is that I’m good at making lists and coming up with ideas but I often struggle with following through. I’ve been trying to hammer home the importance of intentionality over the last little while but it’s a battle that has to be fought every day. For me, if I want to incorporate more novel things into my life, I know that I have to actually schedule them in or they won’t happen. I don’t know why I have a resistance to this sort of thing, especially right now when my schedule is the emptiest it’s ever been, but I know that if I force myself to go on a mini adventure or create something just for fun, I’ll be glad that I did.

I like keeping track of things, so I think that making a list of what I want to do, as well as a list of things that I have done will help me to keep things top-of-mind and give me a better chance at getting the ball rolling. In fact once I’m done writing this, I’ll create a Notion database to do just that. I don’t have too many ideas to get started, but I do know that the first item on the list will be to make green eggs and ham, because I’m an adult who gets to choose what to cook for myself. If you have any suggestions of novel things for me to add to said list, feel free to send them my way!

If you’re struggling with the monotony of life right now, I challenge you to join me in cultivating novelty. It doesn’t have to be a grand, life-changing experience. You don’t have to travel the world or check off a bucket list item. Little, everyday things can go a long way. Camp out in the living room. Build a fort. Go for a drive with no destination. Watch a sunrise. Learn a new skill. Redecorate a room or rearrange your furniture. Listen to music you’ve never heard, or watch a movie from a different genre. Look at the stars or watch the clouds change shape. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Wear a costume for no reason. Be creative and find small ways to mix up your routines and add a bit of novelty to your day. And if you find something fun to do, I’d love to hear about your experience!

Tagged: life.

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