Posts Tagged ‘Repetition’

How do you stay grounded?  I just conducted a Google search on “staying grounded” that returned over 4.7 million results.  I suspect the phrase means wildly different things to different people, depending on the context.

For me, being grounded refers to first knowing who I am at my core – knowing what is most important to me – and then doing things that reinforce that foundation.  It is that second part of reinforcing that helps remind me of the knowing.

In one of my earliest lessons learned this year, I shared my framework for each day – the three words “ground,” stretch,” and “reflect.”  The idea is to begin each day grounded in who I am, stretch myself to excel beyond what is needed just to get by, and then reflect on the day’s experience by capturing a lesson learned for this blog.

While taking a week off work this week to stay home and read and write, I thought it was time for more intentional grounding.  To that end, several hours per day this week are devoted to reading various books of the Bible along with the study notes accompanying them in the ESV Study Bible.  If I consider my Christian faith to be the most important grounding aspect of my life, then it’s important that I spend some extended time – not just occasional, brief moments – in that which defines what it means to be Christian.

Last night I just finished reading the Gospel of Luke.  For the Christian, nothing grounds one more than being reminded of the full account of the life, death and resurrection of Christ as told by eyewitnesses and others from that day.  It has a way of cutting through the extraneous frill that so easily clutters our lives, and it drives home the basics of who we are, who God is, and what He has done for us that we could not do for ourselves.  It challenges us to put aside distractions that take us away from our life’s purpose.

I don’t know what you consider your core foundation or grounding to be, but whatever it is, I hope you take the time to regularly reinforce it.

Leap year lesson #254 is Stay grounded.

When I began this year of blogging about daily lessons learned, I wrote that my daily framework centered around three words – ground, stretch and reflect.  After making sure each day is grounded in strengthening that which is at my core, and after stretching to do more than others expect of me throughout the day, I reflect on the experiences of the day and capture at least one lesson learned.  Through 232 lessons, that worked without fail.

And then there was yesterday.

During that time at the end of the day when I was thinking about the events of the day, I drew nothing but a giant blank as I tried to come up with some lesson learned.  I don’t know if I was just too tired or didn’t try hard enough or if something else was going on, but the fact is that I just didn’t come up with a lesson for the day.  At least I didn’t until I slept on it.

Is is possible that we really can go through a day full of work and repetitive activity and not learn anything worth writing down?  Yes, it is.  But why is that so, and is it a good thing that it can happen?  Those are tougher to answer.

Where I’ve landed after having a day to periodically ponder yesterday is that some days are so filled with routine repetition that there really is nothing new experienced worth capturing.  All the end-of-day reflection in the world draws a blank because we just didn’t see or perceive or do or feel anything out of the ordinary.  If all of my days were like that or even if that happened regularly, it would concern me.  But the fact that this is lesson #233 before it has happened tells me that it’s a rare occurrence, indeed, and I’m OK with that.

Today was different and worthy of another post for tomorrow.

For now, though, leap year lesson #233 resulting from yesterday’s unexceptional routine is that Some days don’t have learning moments.

We usually don’t associate repetition with things that are exciting and that we look forward to.  In fact, we more readily associate repetition with boring tasks.  Yet, there are several circumstances that come to mind where repetition can be enjoyable and beneficial.

For example, this morning my granddaughter wanted to sit in my lap and read the same Go, Dogs, Go book over and over again.  It certainly wasn’t boring to her because she was the one insisting on it, and it was enjoyable for me because I’ll gladly sit and read to her anytime as long as she wants.  Work can wait.

When I taught a lot of classes in a previous role – or, more accurately, the same class over and over again – people would occasionally ask me, “Don’t you get tired of teaching the same thing all the time?”  The truthful answer was “No, I don’t, because I really love what I do.”  So the repetition reality of work can be a pleasure if you are fulfilled by it.

In my spiritual life, I have 100 Bible verses I selected several years ago that are the core of what I want to have hidden in my heart as the guts of Christianity.  Remembering them takes repetition regularly, because without it I will forget them.  The ability to call them to mind when needed is worth the effort of repeating them aloud time after time.  Just a few minutes per day is all that is needed to stay on top of those 100 verses.

It may not be in vogue to learn through repetition these days, but I think the method is still valid and helps embed what is learned into us.  While it can be true that we find ourselves dreading some things we must repeat, that does not have to be the case with all things.  Repetition can, in fact, bring comfort through the familiarity.  Whether it is the “do it again” expectation of my granddaughter, repeating work that I love, or continuing to reinforce prior learning for things of great value to me, I am reminded of leap year lesson #151 – Repetition can be a good thing.

On the back wall of the Visitor’s Center at The Abbey of Gethsemani is a plaque with some wonderfully thought-provoking words written by G. K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy. During this beautiful springtime week in this quiet place of reflection, I was brought to tears by the thought expressed.

Chesterton wrote:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy, for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical “encore.”

Many of my unbelieving friends and acquaintances will scoff at such a notion. To those who choose not to believe in a Creator, I won’t try to argue and rationalize them into belief even though such arguments can be made. But for those who share my belief, I hope you see each fresh sign of spring now and in the weeks ahead as a great theatrical encore by the only One capable of that act.

Repetition is not boring when it is the repetition of beauty and meaning.

Leap year lesson #87 is There is beauty in a child’s “Do it again”