Thursday, December 02, 2021

Habits Of Accident

 There is something about being away from your life as much as being in your life that causes one to develop a certain sort of "Review at Arm's Length Exercise" of your entire life.

This happened to me last month of course:  between hiking the Grand Canyon, being at The Ranch, and being in Costa Rica I was "out of my life" over 50% of the time.  And it is funny what that sort of "arm's length" will do to a person.

We - whether we choose to admit it or not - are largely creatures of habit and schedules.  I see in my own life; I see it in the lives of The Ravishing Mrs. TB and Na Clann at home: Rising about the same time, breakfast of about the same thing, leaving at the same time, returning at the same time, filling the evening with the same schedule as the day before.  In a great many ways this is helpful of course, as it manages our lives with some degree of efficiency and practicality:  given the option of too many choices, I could stand transfixed at breakfast, not eating because I do not know what I want (this actually happened more than once in Costa Rica).  

But what it also does is keep us in a rut of our making as well.

An example:  I have a pretty well established routine in the morning:  Get up, pray, Bible readings for the day (Old and New Testament), journal, a short vocabulary and passage time in a foreign language calisthenics, take Poppy The Brave for a walk, feed the animals, and then either catch up on the news or write a blog post (or both) before eating breakfast and preparing for the day.  My schedule in this regard almost never varies  - when I am home.

But why do I do these things in this order?  Why do I do these particular things?  There is nothing inherently wrong with them, but have I done all of them so long (excluding prayer and Bible reading, which is imperative of course) that I do them without thought?  And what are they getting me towards, or am I just doing them for the sake of doing them?

This is just one element of my day.  It is full of such things.

It is not that any of the things I am doing are "wrong" - but are they "right" in the sense that they are filling some need or advancing some goal?  Or it just habit that, 10 years from now, will look exactly the same as it did before with the same results?

Perhaps a more relevant question is:  Where do I want to go and what do I want to do and are these things helping me to accomplish that?  

Post Script:  I would be remiss in not posting the fact that our friend Leigh Tate at Five Acres and a Dream (if you do not follow Leigh, you surely should; her blog is a very good review of life disguised as a blog about making a self sufficient life on five acres) has recently published a book on Livestock:  Prepper's Livestock Handbook: Lifesaving Strategies and Sustainable Methods for Keeping Chickens, Rabbits, Goats, Cows, and Other Farm Animals.  Leigh is an honest and engaging author that is quite open about her and Dan's successes and failures.  I have read a number of her pamphlets and her book Five Acres and A Dream:  The Sequel and highly recommend all of them.  And, of course, it is Christmas and we should do all we can to support our friends who are actually doing good.



16 comments:

  1. "Where do I want to go and what do I want to do and are these things helping me to accomplish that?"

    I still lack clarity and a sense of purpose in that area. I know that our routines have settled into patterns that work well for us, and a lot of those routines evolved with little or no conscious detailed planning.
    I also think that the things we do can be divided into those routine tasks that must be done, food related, cleaning, bill paying, maintenance, and probably more that haven't yet sprung to mind.
    The other routines are those we chose to do and the as yet new routines in our futures.

    You noticed that I didn't list the routines of work, and by work I mean formal employment. We are both retired and that has meant a degree of freedom.
    I say degree because life's responsibilities didn't go away in retirement, and retirement shifted my perspective to the point where things that I was sure I wanted to do when I retired turned out to be not that important.

    I again discovered that my life long difficulty in figuring out what I want to be when I grow up is still unanswered.
    What became clear early on in retirement was that I didn't want to be on any schedule where I had to be at any given place at any given time.
    I'm positive that reaction is because I spent my working life punching a time clock, or signing a time sheet.
    But I'm no closer to figuring out what I want to be when I grow up than I was in my teens.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John - Habits are not bad; indeed as you point out, they are required in a lot of ways to help us do things efficiently. The example of the breakfast in Costa Rica was not imagined; I literally spent 5 minutes every morning trying to figure out what to eat. Here at home it is automatic.

      Your retirement comment mirrors that of what my father told me as well. In his case when he retired he had 90 acres of brush to clear with a tractor, which made him very happy. But my fear is the same as yours: when that transition comes, the things I think I will be doing - the things I think I want to do - will not be the things that I will actually be doing. That can be good or bad; what I need is the same as you, an idea. I, too, am no closer to figuring out what I want to do when I grow up.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous3:53 AM

    Perhaps the 'rut' is the mind placing the tasks to be done at the most opportune time. Walking the dog when it is more cool and less traffic. Prayer for when the mind is the most serene and you can focus more on thoughts.

    Having a spouse that works on same schedule as yourself (I think) is an advantage. I don't mind waking up early to get to work and begin the day. My wife would far prefer sleeping in and staying up late is more relaxing.

    Conflicts can arise quickly. Last night, as I was preparing to go to bed, she asked me if I had any disk batteries and where they were located. "Umm - I might have some, but no idea if they fit the device you have. Where are they - no clue". A quick search in likely places found nothing.

    Took me a bit longer to fall asleep. My mind was running a maze, thinking of where else could they be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To some extent I believe you are 100% right: I walk the dog not only because it is cool and less traffic in the morning, but because I have a large chunk of time and it allows me to think more.

      I am familiar with the proposition of solving problems, which frankly seems to be a difference between men and women. My assumption is that when someone tells me a problem - especially my wife - I am being told it to fix it immediately. In point of fact, she is often just mentioning it as something that needs to be done at some point.

      Delete
    2. Truth here, when G mentions a task to be completed I take her meaning 'now', where as you say she is just pointing out that it requires attention but rarely is there urgency mentioned.

      Delete
    3. John, it has reached the point where it specifically has to be pointed out to me that I need not "act" on it at the moment...

      Delete
  3. I see the sense in your post TB and heartily agree with your sentiment. I admit also to being a creature of habit although my strict routine of sleep, bathe, eat, work, eat, bathe, sleep and repeat are not so onerous since I left the factory life and stepped over to the world of self employment. I strongly believe that the invention of the clock and the industrial revolution have tied many of us to the yoke of routine.

    Having said this, routine is not a bad thing in itself as it allows a sense of order and organisation in our lives. Something that somebody like myself with mental health issues helps to run a relatively normal life (depending upon your definition of a normal life that is!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, there is nothing wrong inherently with it John - and yes, it can help "out-source" those decisions which we commonly have to make. At least for me, it is probably worth asking (now and again) why I continue to do things.

      Delete
  4. I think everyone falls into a habitual routine when there is a time demand that is immovable in their life, i.e. work.

    When I was a radio secret agent for my company, time was mine to manage. If there wasn't much to do, I'd get my training done, or work on organizing the work truck. I could start anytime I wanted and finish when I wanted. Some days started at 1000 others at 0400... I varied by the task at hand. I didn't have many habits other than getting as much sleep as I could, you never knew when a 36 hour day would appear.

    FFWD to the last few years, we were moved into hourly positions... 8-5 period. And the habits formed around it, like how a cyst develops or a seed wart. It's just how we respond to life.

    I do like to see other's schedules. I am always up for a review of my life. If there is a better way to do things or a more interesting way, I like to give them a try and see if they 'fit'.

    Being on sick leave this long has been difficult in the habit area. When you have near zero energy, your habits can start to peel off like a callous...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make a good point STxAR - the "ordinary" 8-5 job does leave one with a major milestone (the other being sleep, of course) around which habits form like no other. I do not that is either a good or bad thing, but there it is.

      I tend to fall apart after a week off - I can only imagine what longer periods would do to one.

      Delete
  5. In my mind, routines and where I want to be in the future are two separate things. My routines are just a way of getting things done that I want to do in an efficient manner and have little to do with progressing my life into the future. That is done separately. In fact, my routines vary depending on weekday or weekend and also school in session or summer break or vacation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair Ed. I suppose my point - and maybe this is only for me - is that my habits inherently include things that are in my future (Iai practice, for example, or writing) - so I suppose I want to maximize my use of them.

      Delete
  6. Of all the nonsense that Carlos Castaneda wrote, there were a few tidbits in there that were worth digging out. One was just a flip comment by Don Juan that "We humans are creatures of habit. The only possibility for wisdom lies in choosing our habits". The fact that habits can be chosen and inculcated gives me great comfort. Couple that thought with the oft repeated admonition that "The Point of Power is the Present Moment", and we have the means to make changes we desire.
    Thanks again TB for a thought provoking post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greg - Pointing out that habits can be chosen - or abandoned - is a good one. Perhaps in some ways letting a habit go is good practice for no other reason than it demonstrates our ability to be above them.

      And of course as ever, you are quite welcome.

      Delete
  7. I'm one of those who needs routine (or maybe I should say "structure") in my daily life or it falls apart. I'm more than just a little OCD and can lean toward procrastination, so it helps me stay on track.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly - It certainly helps me as well in a great many areas. I do wonder though, if I get habitually accustomed to them without asking the correct questions about them. Even if the answer is always "yes", it may make sense for me to at least ask it.

      Delete

Your comment will be posted after review. If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!