What We Hold On To

Habits.  We take them for granted, but there are valid reasons for them.

Some don’t seem very important: I make the bed every morning, but I’m sure the bed and bedding will all be there when I get home again.

Some seem very  important: I take my blood pressure pills (almost) every morning when I finish eating a banana that I share with our bunny.

Some may or may not seem important: I usually park in the same space when I get to the store in the morning – a space that’s not too close to the building (I don’t want a bunch of bozos parking near my car and smacking it when they open their doors)  but still close enough that I can see the car from my desk (it’s right over there =>).  [wow, four punctuation characters in a row, a new record!]  Makes it easier to find my car when it’s time to leave, so that’s an important habit once a day when it gets dark and it’s time to go home.

Some seem to be tied into our very being and we can’t give them up: two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence when publishers want only one.

Some don’t seem very important, but save us from annoying disruptions, and usually they become so ingrained that we take them for granted.  Until there’s another disruption.

Yesterday morning I was eating a blueberry muffin, and while I was chewing I sensed something solid in my mouth that was not munching the way a muffin should.  I spit out the mass of half-eaten muffiney goodness and found one of my crowns had some off.  Since it was Monday, January second, pretty much everybody was taking the day off, especially dentists.  A few quick calls revealed my local dentist office was opening up at 8 am Tuesday, so I closed the drain in the sink and washed the crown off, placed it in a large baggie and put it on a plate on my desk (no need to risk the cost, delay, and misery of replacing a crown).

Normally I get up somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00 (or 9:30 or…) but last night I set the alarm for 7 am, and then this morning after it went off I half-listened to the television news for twenty minutes (hey, I knew I would, that’s why I didn’t set the alarm for 7:15) and finally got up.  As usual I ate something and took my pills (check!), although I drank breakfast instead of eating a banana…the bunny looked very disappointed.  Halfway through my nutritious, allegedly delicious protein shake I took my pills (check!), made the bed (check!), brushed my teeth (check!) and put on deodorant (check!), got dressed and headed out to the car to drive to the store and pick up the crown.  Halfway to my next stop, it hit me – um, shouldn’t I have shaved?   Too late now.  That should have been a warning that it was a disruptive morning.

Next stop, gas for the car.  Thanks to a few gift cards that I bought as Christmas gifts I was looking at 70 cents per gallon discount on gas at our local grocery store, and I had passed up the chance to fill up the night before so that I could use up more gas and save as much as possible on a fill-up.  Pulled in, ran my card through, filled up, and drove off.  I picked up the crown and headed to the dentist’s office, arriving a miraculous two minutes before eight, just as I had planned (instead of being late as usual).

They promised to fit me in at 9, and I headed back to the car so I could get back to the store, completely convinced that I could pick out a topic and knock out a blog entry before the appointment.

And discovered that I had left the gas cap somewhere on the road.  Sigh.  I hadn’t done that since I started driving my pinto in 1971 and learned the hard way that the new concept of self service at gas stations required a little more work than I had imagined.  I stopped at an auto parts store and picked up a replacement gas cap (after first answering about a half-dozen questions about my car so they could pick out the right cap…wouldn’t it make more sense that one size fits all?  Apparently not.

So no matter how hard we work at habits, it turns out that just a little disruption can throw our patterns off, and there’s no telling how much work it will take to make up for even a single change.  If only we could find small disruptions that would make it easier to drop bad habits!

Here’s Chicago, hoping that some habits would just go away without any work: