The sum of my habits.

April 19, 2013 § 3 Comments

Some of my journals.Every evening in the quiet space between dinner and lights-out I do four things.

I stretch; always the same pattern of ridiculous moves made normal by repetition.

I found them in a book that purported to cure, or at least ease, carpal tunnel syndrome. My CTS rages on, but the exercises keep me limber and I have an interesting view of our dog Moo as she steps over me; seen from below she seems to smile.

I wash the dishes and clean the kitchen so the next day is a fresh start, none of the spills of the previous day lingering. I have a great affection for fresh starts, even if it is just the beginning of a new day.

I sing scales, pushing as close to three octaves as I can without sounding like a cat in heat.

I can combine scales and stretches, but a woman lying on her back with her legs straight up the wall singing is ridiculous, even to me. It is easier to scrub and sing. The water runs and I climb my way up the scale—Ray stares at his computer screen enduring what may be the longest fifteen minutes of his day.

I write in my journal, recording a day, often largely the same as the several before it, but the act of recording a day seems to give it weight and importance. Like a tagger, I am leaving my mark. Hey, I was here.

There is no intended reader for my journals except myself. I never question the time that goes into recounting my life to some future self. The journals parade across a long shelf, their sheer number lending them credibility.

These four things usually fill all the vacant minutes of the evening, but if there’s any time left I get out my guitar and see if I can snatch a new song out of the air or get any better at using finger picks–so far the answer is no on the finger picks.

What do these random habits give me and what do they squeeze out?

I’ve never consciously done the math, but by now I could have a closet full of crocheted blankets instead of a parade of journals.

I could be far better read if I’d let the dishes lapse, bilingual, if I’d used my breath to speak, not sing.

I don’t remember making a conscious decision that these would be my nightly activities, but out of all the possible routines to choose from, these are mine.

Our routines calm and give us a feeling we have what my mother called stick-to-itiveness.

Individually they are small, but over time their effect accrues.

Routines make us who we are and who we aren’t. They are our strengths and our most lab-ratlike behaviors. They reinforce what we think of as self and crowd out all the other myriad selves we might have become.

For good or bad, tonight I will sing some really bad notes at the high end of the scale while washing the dinner dishes. I will tell my future self that today I planted tomatoes, and observe my dog’s smile from below.

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§ 3 Responses to The sum of my habits.

  • craig reeder says:

    so interesting to think about talking to your future self. i often wish i could go back in time and talk to my past self…… boy, would i ever take myself to task!!!! sigh…….

    Like

    • But talking to your future self has a purpose too. The patterns that elude you when you live day-to-day become clear when you read back over the span of days that have gone before. You realize which mistakes you are making over and over and it is easier to see what must be changed so that you can make more of your life.

      Your future self will thank you if you make the effort.

      Like

  • KM Huber says:

    Another future self speaker; I should have known! Let me come clean here as not surprisingly, I am with the quantum folks who believe past, present, and future are occurring simultaneously, and as such, whenever one senses a pattern that isn’t exactly serving anyone, there is always a chance to change it and see what happens. A bit off topic, I know, but the “sum of your habits” brought it out in me.

    Karen

    Like

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