Learning to Exult in Monotony

Last year, I tried to read Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton.

I got 1/3 of the way through it and the book disappeared off my phone somehow. That’s how far I went with the book.

Although I do not remember much about the book itself, I do remember a specific section:

The sun rises every morning…it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore. – G.K. Chesterton

Those words make a deep impression on me. So much, in fact, that I scribbled a poem in my journal that very night.


These clouded eyes were

Not always jaded

But filled with gazing

Child-like wonder

Of night skies that

Shine for rehearsal

Again, not tired

Of the repeating

Waiting for me to

Wake from my sleeping

To join in this repeating.

Exulting in monotony.

Exulting? I don’t know. I struggle staying focused on one thing at a time as it is. Repetition bores me to tears. Now I am to exult in it? It was fun making a poem about it, but living it out is a different story.

We usually do not say, “Do it again”. We say, “Do something else.” We move from one thing to the next at dizzying speed, breathless from never-ending stimulation.

Maybe we do this because we are growing older faster. Losing childhood sooner. Listlessness and lifelessness have caught up to us, and we have become weak.

We are not strong enough to swing without stopping.

I was at a friend’s house playing with his two boys. The younger boy was four, the older boy was five. We were outside, and they wanted me to push them on a swing. Sure, I thought. It will keep them occupied for a while.

I started pushing them on the swing. “Higher, Sam, higher!” This went on. And on. And on. I am sure they would have had me push until my arm fell out of its socket. They had no comprehension of getting “tired” of swinging for an hour.

Sounds exciting, right?

We are not strong enough to watch an anthill for hours on end.

I did this a couple times when I was 11 years old. It was amazing. I would watch the ants pour out of the hill, trying to follow their zig-zag paths. Then I would go five feet away, try to find a random ant, and see if it would make it back to the same ant hill. Then I would go back to the ant hill, find an ant, and follow it. Over and over and over again.

Fascinating, right?

I want to be more alive. More child-like. Stronger. More capable to exult in monotony. More aware of the wonder surrounding me.

I want to be able to say, “Do it again”.