Wednesday 1 February 2012

The patterns of everyday events that make up our lives.

I have been thinking about what makes up the texture of our lives. The simple fact is that no matter how sophisticated we think our lives are, we all spend the bulk of our time everyday on the millions of tiny activities that make up a life.

This thought is well expressed by the architect Christopher Alexander in The Timeless way of Building.

Of course some events happen once in a lifetime; others happen more often; and some happen very often indeed. But although it is true that a unique event can sometimes change our lives completely, or leave its mark on us, it is not too much to say that, by and large, the overall character of our lives is given by those events which keep on recurring over and over again...

If I consider my life honestly, I see that it is governed by a certain very small number of patterns of events which I take part in over and over again.

Being in bed, having a shower, having breakfast in the kitchen, sitting in my study writing, walking in the garden, cooking and eating our common lunch at my office with my friends,  going to the movies, taking my family to eat at a restaurant, having a drink at a friend's house, driving on the freeway, going to bed again. There are a few more.

There are surprisingly few of these patterns of events in any one person's way of life, perhaps no more than a dozen. Look at your own life and you will find the same . It is shocking at first, to see that there are so few patterns of events open to me.

Not that I want more of them. But when I see how very few of them there are, I begin to understand what huge effect these few patterns have on my life, on my capacity to live. If these few patterns are good for me, I can live well. If they are bad for me, I can't.