The parts of life that are spent brushing your teeth, lying in bed staring at the ceiling. Driving the same route to the same job that you’ve worked at for the last four years. Making coffee in the morning and cleaning the filter the same way you have for the last ten years.
Novelty feels good. The novelty of change suggests to you than things can be different. It holds the promise that things won’t be the same way they’ve always been — that there’s something more available than just … the same.
But novelty lies to you.
It sings in a honeyed voice to your ego — like the crooked finger from the wafting smell of a fresh pie. It beckons you. You can almost feel your feet leave the ground as you start to float off towards what could be.
That novelty is a fucking liar.
Novelty tells you that the path won’t have obstacles. It will tell you that things can be only fun and easy and new and different. Novelty tricks you and tells you that the future will be different than the past, and that you just hadn’t found the right configuration of circumstances to create a new future.
Novelty will tell you, when it’s worn out its welcome, that what you need is new novelty. You need to re-up the hit of life that you’ve been getting when the current bump of novelty wears off.
Novelty makes sobriety appear as appealing as the next drink, the next toke, the next bump — whatever your poison happens to be — because in this moment, sobriety is novel. But what happens two months in, once the novelty has worn off, and you’re now in a new flavour of rote, boring life?
You’ve noticed this right?
That cleanse seems amazing three days in, just like that new budget, that new approach to tidying up your closet, that new route to work, that new way of organizing your desk…
Novelty gets in the way of developing an appreciation for the colour white. It gets in the way of appreciating vanilla, the comfort of sleeping in your own bed, the feel of your toothbrush against your teeth. It strokes your hair and distracts you — it pulls you away from the ground. Novelty replaces mastery with new. It replaces the patina of commitment with the glamour of the temporary.
Novelty blinds you to what is predictable, and it does this in part by insisting that this is anything but predictable. It whispers that looking towards what is predictable will just take you down off this high. Stay with the new approach! It’s working! There’s no need to take a look at how this mirrors the way it’s gone in the past — in fact it certainly has nothing to do with the past, because this feels so different.
Novelty tells you that how you feel is an effective measure of how you’re doing relative to the goals you say you’re committed to. (Can you imagine a company operating on this premise?)
How will this go, once the novelty wears off?
I’ll tell you: It will go the same way it’s always gone.
Novelty doesn’t want you to look down that road, because that road reveals that even novelty is predictable.
It’s all predictable.
You can chase novelty, or you can take a moment to stop and slow down and confront what is predictable. You can confront not only what is predictable, but also predictability itself. You can let go of the very human need for continual, ongoing stimulation, and generate within yourself an appreciation for the mundane, the dull, and the rote.
From a willingness to confront what is predictable comes many things: you’ll experience frustration and agitation. You’ll want to create something new. You’ll want to get up and run. You’ll feel tired and anxious. But if you’re willing to sit through those things and move through your desire to introduce novelty, you’ll notice that you start to slow down and get a little more grounded in what is. And from that place you can start to address what is predictable and how you are creating that.
Rather than painting over what is predictable with a new shiny coat of novelty, you can actually change the way things go.
But only if you’re willing to first sit and be.