Routine can be comforting and necessary, but too much routine can become crippling when life’s inevitable disruptions bring horror home.
Routines are sacred, just ask my grandparents. My grandparents have had the same routine since 1958 when they first got married. For decades this routine remained intact, that is until my grandpa was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and dementia. Now, their sacred routine has eroded away, leaving a void of uncertainty and anxiety.
This void can be felt when you enter their home. It acts like a black hole. Any energy or certainty that my grandparents still possessed has fallen into this dark maw leaving them tired and afraid. The horror of my grandpa slowly losing his faculties, while my grandma is forced to helplessly watch, is only half of the nightmare that they live in. Without their routine, they’re both lost in a life they barely recognize.
The horror genre has often been synonymous with the word “disruption.” This obviously makes sense. “Disruption” is the vehicle by which everything in horror happens.
Not only that, but horror has historically been a genre that has disrupted social norms, sensibilities of morality, and the very concept of our reality. Horror disrupts the mundanity and mortality of the characters inside its narratives and (vicariously) the viewers. But when we say narratives, when we say mundanity and mortality, what we really mean is “routine”.
Everything we comfortably do in life (including just living) is a routine. Everything we see that gets disrupted in horror is a routine. The very pretense of a routine is safety, and the continuation of safety. Buying a house only to find it haunted, having sex only to get butchered, going on a camping trip, visiting relatives, making popcorn and watching a movie… horror doesn’t just disrupt the fantastical, horror disrupts the normal.
Horror reminds us that anything has the potential to be dangerous, and that life at its core is unpredictable. When horror disrupts routine, it does so to remind us that routines aren’t necessarily safe— and that the safest way to live life is to be as adaptable and unpredictable as life itself. Science has shown that people who continually add variety to their lives have a better chance of avoiding illnesses such as the ones my grandpa suffers from. Just going a different way home now and then could help you avoid the reaper a little bit longer.
In summation, keep trying to find new ways to do the same thing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to, now and then, reinvent the way you roll.