The Value of the Little Things in Life

Remembrance of Things Past

Sometimes, an old photograph, a familiar scent or a tune you hear can trigger a flood of memories and associations. This past weekend, I read an article titled The Morning Routines of Successful People and it set in motion a train of memories.

Frank Desch (1873 – 1934)

Meaningful Coincidences and Lasting Memories

The article reminded me of a friend I knew in college and the perfume she wore. She wore Halston; back then it was all the rage. It reminded me of the book she recommended to me, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

In an opening scene, a visitor, enjoying the warmth of a fireplace, is captivated by a story told by the housekeeper, Nelly Dean. At one point Nelly stops and draws attention to the lateness of the hour and suggests that the story could be wrapped up in “half a dozen words.” Lockwood, the visitor says he’d prefer it if she continues at a leisurely pace because he intends to sleep until ten the next day. Nelly Dean’s memorable reply is:

You shouldn’t lie till ten. There’s the very prime of the morning gone long before that time. A person who has not done one-half his day’s work by ten o’clock runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.

I don’t know why, but the last sentence stayed with me and I never forgot it. I picked up the book during a college semester on a lark, as it wasn’t part of my coursework. It was assigned to my then-ex-girlfriend for her English class and I read it based on her recommendation. I’m sure there are lots of other things I learned that semester, but I couldn’t tell you what they were and it’s as though I’ve forgotten them all.

As an aside, we were both pre-med students at the time. I never made it to medical school. My friend went on to become the head of radiation oncology at a hospital.

Morning Routines – On a mundane level, a ritual is a routine that we follow or a set of actions we perform out of habit. A ritual allows you to lose yourself in a process, thus freeing your mind. It can facilitate a type of free-form meditation that promotes silence and clear thinking. It can put you in a zone that is conducive to productivity and peak performance.

The choices for creating a ritual that suits your lifestyle and temperament are almost boundless. Your ritual can be as effortless as sitting alone and relishing the aroma and flavors of a steaming cup of your favorite blend. Depending on the mood of the present moment and what circumstances may require, you can collect scattered thoughts, savor the moment or consider your plans for the day ahead.

The most interesting point I drew from the article is that willpower is like a muscle. It can get tired and its store of energy can be depleted during the course of a day. After a good night’s rest, you have as much willpower as you are going to have at any other time. There was no word on whether the more you use it, the stronger it gets.

See: The Morning Routines of Successful People

Are you a morning person? Do you have a morning routine?

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Gary Gauthier

Gary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.


11 responses to “The Value of the Little Things in Life

  1. Scent is a powerful trigger, Gary, so no surprise you associate Halston with your friend.

  2. I think scents are a powerful trigger, the most powerful in fact. My morning routine is 1) coffee 2) check social networking and email 3) get to work (writing, editing, whatever is on my plate).

  3. Pingback: Remembrance of Things Past | Gary Gauthier

  4. Sorry to be so late, Gary, to another of your inspiring posts!
    I start right after breakfast whatever time that ends up being. Exercise first, breakfast, then writing. Social media is my after lunch treat, more exercise and more writing til time to make dinner. Most days I can stick to this. Every now and then life gets in the way, as it did this week.
    I would have to say ‘no’ as to whether willpower gets stronger the more you use it. I make myself stay away from junk food, but I’m successful mainly because I don’t go near a grocery store where I might give in and buy it. So, my willpower is only as strong as my dislike for grocery shopping, in this case. 🙂

  5. “A ritual allows you to lose yourself in a process, thus freeing your mind. It can facilitate a type of free-form meditation that promotes silence and clear thinking.” I love that! Sometimes I struggle to form routines. My nature seems to bristle against it but I do see that I’m more productive and less stressed when I stick to one.

    • I have to watch myself so that I don’t fall into routines that keep me distracted and wasting time. Not all routines are good ones, so you may have a leg up, Sonia. 🙂

      • So true. I find it strangely easy to make those kind of routines. Eventually, I’m hoping the good routines really stick. My morning writing routine is getting there. Makes a big difference in how much writing/plotting I actually turn out.

  6. Oh, boo, I don’t have a set time to do anything -but I pray and meditate daily which brings me an incredible amount of peace. I’m working on finding balance with my writing schedule -maybe sleeping in late is the reason for not having a morning routine -you think?
    As far as senses and memories go, I fondly remember the crunch of gravel underfoot in my grandmother’s rose garden. There was a twisty pebbled path in her backyard that started on one side and ended on the other. The roses were scattered with “nopales,” prickly pear cactus. What a wonderful contrast of texture and color! I’d play alone and pretend I was in a magical place. It was so big and my imagination filled every square inch. Eventually, I returned for a drive by visit as an adult. Strangers lived there and I peeked over the fence. The backyard was so small!
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Gary!

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