Get A Rhythm
"When you get the blues," Johnny Cash sang, "come on, get a rhythm." Whole lot of wisdom in that country song. Advanced common sense or something like that.
As a part of my 2011 resolutions, I have attempted a mental shift in my approach to the disciplines I want to establish in my life. I believe that mental models, something like metaphors, are useful for structuring or creating tactics for personal change.
Take the word routine for instance. Not an exciting word. Close to rut.
Discipline is not a bad word, and I really like it. Closely related to disciple which is something we are supposed to be as Christians. But the word can be a bit stoic and stiff.
Habit is a not-so-bad word as well. But kind of blasé.
The word I've adopted for the things I want to accomplish on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis is rhythm.
Now that's a word I like. Rhythm is a musical term. It means the metered movement of beats in time. A predictable pattern of elements in time. But not a stiff pattern. Notes can be played staccato, forte, pianoforte, and a thousand other ways. Furthermore, there's the offbeat. Adagios have rhythm, Gospel has rhythm, and rock has rhythm. And Jazz has rhythm. Jazz is predictable but it's not. You can improv, take a solo, play the notes differently, but all within the rhythm. You can even skip a note and not hurt the song and might even help it.
And rhythm is fun. You can dance, sing, run, play, drive, hum, and tap to rhythm. Rhythm has a sense of joie de livre that routine or habit will never have.
So what I'm trying to inculcate in my daily, weekly, monthly life are rhythms based on Christian disciplines to build good, godly habits in my life. But instead of thinking of rigorous disciplines like an ascetic, self-flagellating monk, I'm trying to move to the beat of the right kind of drum.
Rhythm allows for freedom. Sometimes when we approach prayer or fasting or Bible reading or exercise we often have someone else in mind. Now, Uncle Jay, he used to pray every morning from 6 to 7. Wow. What a disciplined guy. That's what I need: discipline to be like Uncle Jay. Nope. There's no rule to pray in the morning for an hour. You are free to be you in Christ. Think rhythm. Maybe you should pray at night for 15 minutes to start. Get in the rhythm.
Furthermore, rhythm provides a pattern but not a rule per se. You can skip a beat and then next measure hop back in to the pocket. You are never gonna be a perfect manager of your time, attention, action, or resources. You are going to have to improv a lot. But that's ok, it's one of the big mysteries of life.
The question is what do you want to change? What 2-3 rhythms do you want in your life each day? Start moving to the beat, get "in the pocket," and play your life to the right kinda drum.