And then I had to do some new things -- things new to me -- and suddenly I found myself "in the flow" as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would say. It's as if my emotional metabolism ramped up by a factor of two or three.
I guess the thing about "new" is that it can fill up your rut to overflowing, lifting you out.
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That's not the only option, of course. When your rut is overflowing you can always dig it deeper, to accommodate the additional stuff coming in. Not advisable, in my opinion. But people do it.
Sometimes what's familiar (even if it hurts you) is preferred to changing (which is scary). When Big Guy was little I called this "hugging your pet porcupine". A pet porcupine rarely makes you feel better, though.
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Ruts are usually caused by routine: activities, when overdone; thought patterns, when left unchecked; ways of interacting with others that cause failure to thrive.
One of the things I do to keep myself from falling into self-created ruts is to ping my bubble frequently. You know which bubble I mean: the one I create by surrounding myself with like-minded people who suit my tastes and reinforce everything that's most palatable and familiar and non-threatening. I have to fight that bubble pretty actively, much more so now that we inhabit the internet as much as the tangible world.
I do think bubbles lead to ruts, because (assuming the inside surface of a bubble is iridescent, like the outside) they reflect an image of ourselves, slightly warped, back to us. And once the world is all about me... that's a major rut.
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My mother broke her knee yesterday. She fell in a parking lot, which is not the same as falling into a rut. So that's unrelated to the rest of this, except it is pulling on my heart, so I wrote it here. She has been looking forward to a trip to the small town in Illinois where she grew up, looking forward to seeing childhood friends. It's doubtful that will happen now. I am hopeful it will happen later, after the surgery and physical therapy and recovery. I am hopeful that she is not in too much pain. I am hopeful this will not be too great a strain on my father. If you are a praying person, please add Joan and Steve to your prayer list.