The Joys Of Repetition

By Jane Mountain | August 12, 2013

5154 km so far.

I get bored easily. I often find myself, when forced to repeat an experience, thinking “Not this again! Can’t we do something different?”

I also know that repetition can lead to brand new experiences. Think about it. If you only pedal your bike once, sure, you’ll go somewhere, but it won’t be very different from the place you started. If you pedal 10,000, or 100,000, or 1,000,000 times, then you’re getting somewhere.

Today I experienced the good side of repetition.

We have been in Stockholm before. Going back to a place is very different from visiting it the first time. The familiarity allows you to see new things, and see the old things with new eyes. We didn’t feel any of the pressure of first-time visitors to see the big sights, and instead, we could let ourselves wander through the streets, without much of an agenda.

stockholm royal palace

The Royal Palace, Stockholm.

Stockholm is a great city for walking and just gazing at the architecture, the water, the shops filled with gorgeous design, and the beautiful people. So walk and gaze we did.

Bean There, Done That

We went to visit a coffee roaster Stephen had read about, Johan & Nyström. Last night while we were looking for dinner we had walked past their location called J&N At Work, so today we went back to see what it was all about. We knew we had found a special place when Stephen said to the woman working “I hear you have great coffee,” and the woman, who we’ll call Sara, because her name is Sara, said “We do!”.

She then proceeded to ask what kind of coffee we like, described the beans they have in the kind of detail and language that only a huge coffee nerd could use, and recommended a couple of kinds for us to try.

While Stephen and Sara were jiving on coffee, I was soaking in all the beautiful and clever design in the shop. The coffee photos on the wall, the instruction sheets for brewing coffee in different ways, the chairs and tables, and even the filing cabinets, created such a homey atmosphere, if your home was taken straight from the pages of Dwell.

trendy cafe stockholm sweden

Oooh, wouldn’t you just love to cuddle up on those pillows and spend the day working and drinking coffee?

Sara is passionate about coffee. As she measured and brewed our cups, she told us the details of what she was doing. She weighed the coffee and the water every bit as carefully as Walter would weigh his ingredients on Breaking Bad. For weekend fun, she gets together with friends and brews new batches of beans in different ways (different amounts of coffee and water, different kinds of machinery) until they come up with their favourite combinations.

barista at j&n at work stockholm

Sara doing what she does best, J&N At Work, Stockholm.

She must brew thousands of cups every year, but it seems she gets excited about every one. Her passion is what keeps her going, and the repetition is what makes her an expert.

Pose and Re-Pose

We decided to forgo a repeat visit to Wagamama, where we have eaten dozens of times, albeit not for about a decade, and experience something new. K25, in the heart of Stockholm, must be the world’s most fashionable food court. Each restaurant was immaculately designed, with organic, fresh, and healthy foods being the thread that tied them together.

We chose a burrito from the Mexican place and Chinese dumplings from Beijing 8. In this way our lunch symbolically tied together our past lives in LA with our future in China. Deep, huh?

K25 was filled with Stockholm’s white collar workers, out for their lunch breaks. We’ve never seen such a gathering of healthy, immaculately coiffed, and beautifully dressed people in our lives. We felt a little rough around the edges in our well used lululemon clothes.

Outside, Stephen got very excited about this Fisker Karma, either because Justin Bieber owns one or because it’s a really fancy plug-in hybrid electric. I can’t remember which. Anyway, they’re probably bankrupt now, so you can’t get one.

fisker karma luxury car

Fancy Fisker Karma, Stockholm.

Finally, it was time for Stephen’s yoga class. The large space at YogaShakti quickly filled up with students. It seems Stockholm yogis like to be early so they can do some peaceful centring before class. Tonight’s class was one Stephen has taught a few times on this trip before – about seizing opportunities. Part of me wanted to be bored by having to do the same class again. I worked hard to find something new in the poses and in my body while Stephen taught. And of course, because it’s yoga, I did. You can always find new ways to feel the poses, new strengths, and new weaknesses to explore.

This is why yoga keeps us coming back. Each time you repeat a pose, or a sequence of poses, something new emerges for you to explore.

Stephen’s note: I know how much of a challenge is for Jane to find the freshness in a yoga class she has done before. As a teacher I work hard to make a repeat class fresh. It may be a bit easier for me, since I am in a new space, with an entirely new group of students.

Today, I knew after the first two poses that we were in for a special class. It was clear the students had been well taught, and were ready to try new challenges. YogaShakti is a wonderful space, and is the type of community I would love to foster one day. Thanks one more time to Helena for welcoming us so fully.

Just a few days ago, I was encouraging you to get out and try something new. Now, how about trying something you’ve done before? Can you find something new in a repeat experience?  

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