A dead routine
Let me tell you an anecdote:
“Mr. Smith had killed his wife, and his entire defense was based on temporary insanity. He was a witness on his own behalf and was asked by his lawyer to describe the crime in his own words.
‘Your Honour,’ he began, ‘I am a quiet, peaceful man of systematic habits, who virtually never bothers anybody. I get up at seven every morning, have breakfast at half-past seven, punch in at work at nine, leave work at five, come home at six, find supper on the table, eat it, read, watch TV, bed. Until the day in question….’ Here he paused to breathe passionately.
His lawyer said gently. ‘Go on. What happened on the day in question?’
‘On the day in question,’ said Smith, ‘I woke at seven, had breakfast at seven-thirty, began work at nine, left at five and came home at six. There was no supper on the table and no sign of my wife. I searched through the house and found her in the bedroom in bed with a strange man. So I killed her.’
What were your emotions at the time you killed her?’ asked the lawyer, anxious to get the point on the record.
‘I was in a white-hot fury,’ said the defendant, ‘mad with rage, simply out of my mind, and unable to control myself.’ He turned to the jury and, pounding the arm of the witness chair, cried out, ‘Gentlemen, when I come home at six o’clock, supper has to be on the table!”‘
That was his reason for killing his wife — not that she was in bed with a strange man. ‘Supper has to be on the table exactly at six o’clock!’
Are you aware that you are also more or less obsessed with a dead routine? Why are people so obsessed with a dead routine? They are so obsessed with a dead routine because if the chain of their routine is broken, suddenly, underneath they see a futile life, a useless life, a meaningless life. Somehow they are trying to give it a feeling of meaning, an aroma of meaning. Somehow they are trying to forget that they are living uselessly, that they are not living at all.
They make a dead routine; they follow it. Just by following it like a mechanism, they have a feeling that everything is going perfectly well. They get up exactly at the right time, they go to the office, they come home, they read the newspaper, they watch the TV, they take their food, they go to sleep — everything is going as it should go. A dead routine gives the feeling that everything is perfectly right. Underneath, everything is in chaos. They are missing life. Idealism, to me, means living for some ideal to be fulfilled in the future.
-Nirvana: The Last Nightmare, Osho