Don't Automate Your Rituals

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Every morning, after I wake up and get out of bed, after I get dressed and herd my two kids to the breakfast table, and after I give them a plate consisting of a freshly-peeled banana and half of a Kroger Oats & Chocolate Chewy Fiber Granola Bar accompanied by a small cup of milk, I make my way over to my coffee maker.

My coffee maker isn’t anything special. It isn’t a fancy Keurig machine or some five-hundred-dollar espresso machine. It’s just a regular, run-of-the-mill coffee maker.

A coffee maker that, when I make my coffee in the morning, I have to rinse out the carafe before I put fill it up to to the three-cup line and pour it in the back of the maker itself. A coffee maker that takes good-old-fashioned paper filters. A coffee maker that I have to spoon in the coffee grounds - spoon-by-spoon, four times, every time - after I put in the coffee maker. A coffee maker that, once I’ve put in the water, the filter, and the coffee grounds, I hit a switch - an actual switch, not simply a button - on the side before it proceeds to heat the water and run it past the grounds in order to make my cup of coffee in the morning.

It doesn’t have a timer on it. I can’t set it up the night before so that my coffee is ready for me when I wake up. It doesn’t even have a clock on it.

It doesn’t grind my coffee for me - I buy pre-ground coffee, anyways. It doesn’t make fancy coffee. It just makes coffee.

It doesn’t do much for me.

It’s a ritual to use.

my coffee maker my coffee maker

I suppose I could by something fancy. Something that would have my coffee ready for me exactly at 7am or whenever I wake up. Something that I could put fresh (or aged) unground beans in. Something that would give me the ultimate cup of joe every morning.

But then there would be no ritual. No habit. No routine. No sense of balance.

Why would I want to automate that? Automate the things I enjoy? Automate the things that make my mornings?

Coffee is just one example. What really led me to this thought is our blinds at home. Our boring, vertical, white blinds. The blinds that have been in our house since before I lived in it. Since before my wife lived in it before she even met me. Our blinds that my wife, for what ever is her reason, likes to open in the morning and close them in the evening, after it gets dark.

Now, yes, sometimes she has me open them. And I thought about automating them. Maybe getting a little motor on them so they could open and close themselves. Maybe putting that motor on a timer so they open in the morning and close in the evening without us giving it a second thought.

But what would we gain? And what would we lose?

The gain might be the fun of setting it up. But we would lose the ritual.

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