The Value of Routines

There is a Sports Illustrated article about Autistic people enjoying sports and how sports benefited them. One of the featured people is a hockey player. He mentioned the time when his teammates would go out on New Year’s Eve, but opted to stick to his routine and go to bed as usual.

That reminded me of a Christmas party I attended one year at Hoosier Park in Anderson. My work paid for the hotel rooms we stayed overnight, for the weather was too crappy for a 90-min drive back to Fort Wayne at night.

I get to eat prime rib and met the president of Hoosier Park whilst dancing. After the party, we were given slot vouchers and we could go to the casino. Well…I was unable as my gaming license barred me from playing the slots, so I watched my coworkers play the slots. It was “Meh.” I said to the co-workers: “You guys get to play, I will get to bed and will wait for you so we can play Cards Against Humanity. Text me when you arrive at the hotel. Good Night.” I took the shuttle to the hotel and slept.

I woke up at 1am, thinking they will be at the lobby. Well…they were at the pool, drunk as a bunch of skunks, acting stupid. I will not describe much, but it did involve swimming in one’s skivvies and somebody crying in the corner. NOPE. I turned around and went to bed.

I woke up fabulous and I managed to eat White Castle on the way home.

I bet the hockey player who went to bed had a rockstar morning while his teammates felt like they got ran over.

Maybe you feel like you are missing out on other things because you prefer to go your own pace. The question we can ask is: Are the things we miss out are worth skipping? Going your own pace, doing your routine does have merit in a world of people trapped in “FOMO” (fear of missing out). You get to enjoy things on YOUR OWN TERMS. The day after the party I went home to Fort Wayne without a hangover.

I have been to racetracks outside Louisville that sucked away many a “spoon.” Huge crowds, loud noises, no place to sit unless you want to pay a premium on a dining table at their quieter areas. Next year, I am skipping out on the Pegasus World Cup, despite Gun Runner and Gunnevera and West Coast being there. I have to work. I could disrupt my routine and subject myself to the crowds and sensory intrusions and the bite of the budget. (In fact, last year’s inaugural race was very energy-sucking. Gulfstream is too small for such an event. I was quiet and read the programme whilst my friends got drunk. Later, we got thrown out of the hotel due to their antics. Never again.) Instead, I visited Three Chimmeys Farm to see Gun Runner during its open house and fed him a tasty mint. Later I will watch him run at the Pegasus from the comfort of my office. I enjoyed meeting Gun Runner in person. I would not be able to do that at Gulfstream.

(Image description: Champion horse Gun Runner is being fed a mint by Carol. Gun Runner is behind a barred stall. Carol’s right hand holds a green-striped mint.)

The neurotypicals would think that routines are a sign that one is missing out on excitement and that you are Boring. Not necessarily. It just means you know what you want, how you work, and what is best for your mind and body. The hockey player knew he functioned best with his sleep schedule. I am sure that he made room in other aspects of his life to allow for his enjoyable endeavors outside his vocation.

When I go somewhere to visit, I make sure the events do not affect my routines that I get run down or be not at ease mentally. Here is an example: Next year, Keeneland will have its opening meet in early April. I plan for this weekend several months in advance. I book a hotel room nearby. I will save up for a dining seat at the Phoenix Room section, as I knew the host and wait staff. They will accommodate my needs, like setting aside a quiet place to sit. I will dress comfortably yet stylish. If the crowds are overwhelming, I can visit the gift shop or I can relax at the Sales Pavilion. I know that I can leave early if I have enough. I will sleep at the best time.

When you respect your routines, you are respecting yourself, knowing you are taking good care of yourself.