I am currently staying with some family over the easter break. When I normally do this I bring my desktop computer back with me, but this time I decided I wouldn't. Aside from difficulties in transportation, which didn't really enter into my decision as they were minimal, I chose to leave my computer behind because I actively wanted to do something different to what I might normally do.
What would I normally do? Well probably spend a fair amount of time playing computer games, maybe some reading, perhaps some writing too, I still have some work to finish from my previous term so I would probably have gone over some of that.
And what have I done? I have spent much more time reading, playing with and painting figurines and watching a little tv, and playing chess on my tablet - probably because I didn't have other computer games at hand!
The last week or so has been more interesting than it otherwise probably would have been had I continued the same activities. In doing these different things I have found even variations within the activities making them more fun, I discovered that a reading app I had been keeping an eye on had been released so I started using, so am well into War and Peace.
While these things might also have been done had I also had my computer with me, they certainly would have been done a lot less. Having a computer, and thus fewer things to do in the evening, has also meant me going to bed earlier, which is probably a good things, rather than 2 or 3am-1pm I am instead resting to the tune of 12-9am which is making me feel much more rested and gives me a longer morning, which is always nice. I also don't go to bed quite so tired, I don't wear myself out before resting.
What sort of limitations has this had? Well for one thing my ability to do some of the temple work is hampered, working from only a tablet is difficult and time consuming, which is annoying. I have learnt that despite being a student a 9am start is feasible. I guess I have also learnt that it is very possible for me to do other things besides playing computer games, which was afterall the entire point of this exercise, so that's good.
I also realised how easy it might be to get out of shape, after gorging on much chocolate, so resolved to make an effort to attend the gym more - which is not an empty promise, I have been going with ever greater regularity over the last two months.
As for some personsal philosophical reflection on the subject of variation...
It is incredibly easy to do something and continue to do it, it is harder to push an object to get it moving than it is to push it and continue its movement.
Variation can be good, liberating, even enlightening to a certain extent. This is very simply because something different is being done, you can explore new things that you may not ever have considered.
I only varied these small actions, but what might be discovered if more was changed? Perhaps changed is the wrong word, think of it more as exploration. Exploring different things, new things, new ways of looking at things, exploring new ideas.
We all need to be open to the idea of variation, it is afterall a part of overcoming the cravings of attatchment. I am not suggesting that we go through huge life changes, or decide to completely alter our perspectives and ideas, but we should not be opposed to them.
If when exploring something different you find something valuable, as I have, then you can adjust your life to include it. If when exploring something different you don't find something of value, or rather something you won't adjust your life to include, then the value of the exercise comes from your being open to the idea, and from the reaffirmation of the value of things you already do and believe.
Try to vary something in your life, and see what you can discover.