On the Tenacity of Habits


These last few days have seen the return of old habits.

Not bad habits—just ones more appropriate to what I thought were the bygone days of steady rhythms and predictable routines. I’ve gone back to plotting my days, weeks and months with Microsoft Outlook again (I used to plan my entire year this way). I’ve gone back to skipping rope (an old fitness regimen) again. I’ve gone back to writing everyday again.

It’s strange that after all the psychic deconstruction of the last two years, significant portions of the infrastructure still remain. Although I’m vastly more tolerant of uncertainty and unpredictability, I still tend to define a very good day as one where everything goes according to plan, where all the items on my checklist get ticked off, where there’s room, even, to just sit back and bask in smug satisfaction. (I haven’t basked in ages. I haven’t sat back in ages. And I can’t even remember the last time I managed to tick off an entire checklist.)

The first year my life turned topsy-turvy (approximately my 30th year), I tried again and again to maintain the old habits (there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth; much tearing of hair over the sudden impotence of a hitherto reliable power of will). This second year, I stopped making any kind of attempt altogether.

Which is why this furtive, unobtrusive, almost imperceptible reinstatement of old ways of being has been a surprise. (A pleasant one, although I remain cautious. When you’ve had the rug pulled out from under your feet, it tends to make you wary of the ground altogether. I haven’t evolved to the point yet where I can find my ground in groundlessness.)

So we’ll see. As the Japanese Zen master Shunryu Suzuki was so fond of saying, it’s “not always so.” For a long time it was, then for a short while it wasn’t, and now—for a time yet to be determined—it is again. We’ll see.

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2 thoughts on “On the Tenacity of Habits

  1. Claire says:

    Hahaha! I can so relate to the line “I still tend to define a very good day as one where everything goes according to plan, where all the items on my checklist get ticked off, where there’s room, even, to just sit back and bask in smug satisfaction.” Looking forward to regular writings from you Ellen!

    Like

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