In a fascinating article on theatlantic.com, Derek Thompson admits to being a creature of repetition when it comes to entertainment. He has almost memorized the movie Dumb and Dumber and is perfectly capable of filling a weekend watching an entire season of a comedy series he's seen before.
Thompson asks the question: Why do we spend so much time and energy on the same movies and songs? Logically, there are four reasons: habits, addictions, rituals, and status-quo bias. He then moves on to research by Cristel Antonia Russell and Sidney Levy who found out that people enjoy familiar entertainment because it goes down easy, makes them feel good and touches the heart, or enables them to recapture a past moment and appreciate the passage of time.
Mary Ann and I like revisiting pop culture events (albums by The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Leo Sayer, and others) because they take us back to elevating moments in our lives. That's why it makes perfect sense for retirement communities to hold dances where elders can wear clothes from the 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s and dance to their favorite songs. Heidegger called this process of remembering the past "redredging." Therapists have discovered that elders exposed to a sentimental journey to the past show improved health benefits.
The monk in me enjoys routine. I follow a daily schedule and repeat the same spiritual practices every day. I find it very calming to say my mantra over and over again as I walk the streets of New York on my way to film screenings. I always take the same route.
Recently Mary Ann ran into a neighbor at the fish counter of a local store. They discussed how their husbands liked to eat the same fish all the time; in fact, they could eat the same dinner every night and be perfectly happy. Why? Because the rest of their days are spent in inquiry and exploration, filling their brains and senses up with new information and experiences. By dinnertime, they had had enough of the new and the varied, and just wanted something familiar and predictable.