Despite the walls and doors, I could still hear the cacophony of cicadas outside last night. To some people, it is a miserable sound, hordes of red-eyed insects bound and determined to suck the life out of your trees. In fact, it’s all they know how to do.

You see, cicadas live a simple life. Mom and dad mate, mom strips a plant for a place to put her eggs, and then they’re off. When the eggs hatch, the newborns burrow into the ground and spend most of their lives there, some for as short as 2 years, some as long as 17. Then they emerge, molt, and start all over again. The cycle is quite routine.

What cycles do you have in your life?

For me, I wake up in the morning, get ready, go to work, make hot water for my tea while cutting up an apple for breakfast (part of which I generally give away because apples today are enormous), and sit down at my desk to check my email and prioritize the day. Working from project to project gets me through the 9-to-5 until my after-hours plans. Last night it was a fundraising cocktail party for my friends at eXile International. Next week, it’s a 5K for Ellie’s Run for Africa and a baby shower for one of my dearest friends.

These are bright spots, though, not the kind of drudgery an insect faces. For example, while the cicada scrounges off the nearby tree root for food, I can choose from a multitude of eateries just down the road. Cicadas must emerge, molt, and mate, in a saturated market with a shortened time frame. As systems go, nature is rather straightforward. And humans could bear to learn a little bit about the system.

I bet Michael Hingson, author of Thunder Dog, and his partner Roselle would have some wisdom to share on nature’s routine.

Michael is an author, a husband, a businessman, and it just so happens that he is also blind. Roselle is his guide dog and steadfast friend. Between the two of them, they were able to make it down 78 flights of stairs the day the World Trade Center was hit.

Unlike the winged cicadas, Mike and Roselle continually eschew routine to avoid the simple prospect of getting stuck in a rut. Mike scopes out a new area without his guide, but with a cane, to see what he can find. Then, once he has a handle on the lay of the land, he introduces his guide dog and leads her wherever he plans to go, in whatever order he intends to get there. Because he refused to limit himself to a routine, Mike and Roselle knew the World Trade Center well enough to escape that fateful day.

I wonder if I’m more like Mike, or like a cicada. Am I stuck in a rut, or am I ready to explore, unwilling to be limited by what nature has planned? Perhaps I could spread my feelers a bit and see where that lands me. For now, all I know is that my life is much more complicated than mate, wake, burrow, molt, mate.

Or is it?