I love people watching. In Singapore, commuters often fall into observable patterns. Many come to work within minutes of when they did yesterday. Some routinely wear rotating cycle of clothing styles and some even specific clothes. Given the outcome, it is easy to imagine the thought process earlier in that morning. If it is Tuesday, a black shirt and white blouse are the choice of the day. If it is Wednesday, a dark blue trouser and matching striped shirt with dark lace up shoes is the regular pick.
As patterns begin to emerge, I have often wondered where the patterns stop. Are the habits we can see in others limited to when and how they go to work? If they also follow an invisible routine of which clothes are worn on which day, do other things fall into place as well?
I looked at myself as a starting point and found more routines than I cared to know about. I did not want to realize that I react to certain situation the same, no matter who is on the other side or why. I wish I had no knowledge of a recurring way of responding to a question when I do not like the answer.
As I look for extreme patterns, to see where the edges of our journeys might end up, an ugly pattern is there for us to see. As one focuses only on her/him self, a pattern that revolves around a single pivot point emerges. It metaphorically looks like a swirl. One writer described the pattern as a “God-rebel tunes in to sedition – all ears, eager to sin. He has no regard for God, he stands insolent before him.” (Psalm 36.1)
Patterns are here to be broken. As my day begins I see three lifelines.
When you need rest, put yourself in places where you can see beauty, experience wonder, and revel in community.
Opportunities to help others are like reset points. In responding you discover that you are different than before.
Compassion and understanding are guides, if you let them lead.