Tuesday, January 8

I could write posts like this all day, but I wouldn't make a habit of it

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


I often find it funny how there are some realizations about yourself that can only be made through something said during an argument. There are 3 reasons for this. 

1. You have already thrown politeness and candor out in the cold street, to fend for itself, so the path from your brain directly to your mouth is ALL CLEAR. (note: I am not saying that all or even most statements made will be accurate, but I think you should inherently know which ones are and which ones are merely "fightin' words") 
2. The original problem is almost always completely forgotten and the main subject becomes a back and forth collaborative answer to the question nobody asked: "yanno what your problem is?"
3. When you hear someone who knows you say something you have not considered before, you will think about it.  Other people would have danced around the subject all day, in an argument they are as to-the-point as ever possible.. as well as inarticulate, which in my opinion makes it all the more honest.

So, I was having a discussion (read: argument) the other day and although I am now unsure of the context, I was told that I have no habits.  Since then I hadn't been able to dismiss that and basically realized it was horrendously true.  Being the person who has known me the longest, I should have known that.  I have no habits.  When I was younger I used to think of this as an absolutely awesome thing, however I only considered habits as far as bad habits; addictions.  I was very proud of myself that I was not a coffee drinker, didn't smoke, wasn't an alcoholic or drug addict etc etc.  Who would be upset about that?  Nobody.  My mothers side of the family has had trouble with addiction and being prone to that I felt that was really a win for me!  I was free of "things" .. no "thing" made me do anything or behave in any way that I didn't choose.  I didn't "need" anything to get through my day.  How could this possibly come back in my poor favour later on?

What I hadn't thought of was I also had no good habits.  I have no daily routine.  When "X" is missing from my day I am not "all fucked up" .. I don't really feel the need to do anything.  Being habitless has implications that are too complicated to explain in anything other than a short anecdote.  

I went to a Catholic High School.  

Just kidding that's not the whole story.  lol.  It'd be funny if it was though.  Ok so we wore the standard uniforms you see, hear about and most men dream of nightly etc.  I like to boast that I never spent one day of High School in proper uniform.  It's true, too.  I wasn't a rebel but I just didn't like it.  Proper uniform consisted of (many things, there was a list, but mainly) black closed toed shoes, dark knee socks, white undershirt, tucked in oxford shirt etc.  Usually I had at least one of these things totally wrong.  90% of the time it was simply tucking in my fucking shirt.  I just couldn't do it!  I hated it!  I thought it looked poofy, the buttons were off by the time I found a good length, and generally it just didn't feel good.  I would try to tuck it in and then rip it out like there were a thousand fire ants crawling all over my body.  I tried wearing the rugby shirt or sweaters instead so I would not have to tuck anything in but let's face it.. way too hot in the summertime ok.  Anyway back to my story!  Grade 10 I had a very very nice teacher named Mr. Felice.  He was just so likable, and naturally he taught Religion and played folk music on his guitar.  Really vanilla granola stuff.  If I remember correctly most people did well in his class but I think I ended up with the highest grade.  Great guy, easy class, right after lunch, NO problems.  Only thing is Mr. Felice.. while he liked me fine and everything.. was one of those teachers that really believed in the uniform system.  All our teachers were required to make us comply with the rules, of course, but he never turned a blind eye like some would.  They all had classes to teach so who cared about a shirt, as long as you weren't wearing gang colours it was OK.  Anyway I respected his position, he was a nice guy after all, and I understood.  I still wasn't going to tuck in my shirt.  He very politely asked me to please tuck it in before class, at least! and when he caught me he would apologize and regretfully sent me to the office.  I never once was upset at him about it, though.  I said "Yes sir, no problem!  I'll be back as fast as I can!"  I attempted to find ways to avoid being caught.. rush into my desk and put a sweater on my lap so he didn't see my shirt.  It would've worked better if I didn't sit in the front.  Basically he, like yourself, was baffled as to why I didn't just simply tuck it in.  I was a nice girl, I was smart, I did well in school, I was not a rebel in any way, I liked my teacher.. so what was my problem?  I'll say again I had nothing to prove.. trust me, the kind of person who has something to prove is NOT someone like me lol.  I have no "problem with authority" though you'd find some strong arguments to support that, I promise it's merely the arbitrary I have a lack of understanding for.  Also I suppose someone with something to prove would not choose uniform rebellion to make their point.. about whatever it was.  No, I just couldn't do it, and more importantly, I didn't feel that even with consequences in place that I really needed to do it.  Arbitrary rules weren't things I concerned myself with, even when I had all the reason in the world just to make my life easier by doing them.  It's literally as if what happens is totally out of my hands, even if that is far from the case.

That right there is my problem.  Somewhere in the process of living, habits have been regarded the same as arbitrariness, things determined by my individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity.  And now that I've realized this, YES, I do envy people who have habits.  Good habits are obviously necessary.  I want a useless habit, even.  I need to have one very badly.  When I work out I have already specifically, unknowingly, created a set of my own arbitrary rules that I know if I don't follow it to the letter.. like directions.. I might as well just give up right there.  I NEED to do every minute it tells me to do, in the way it says, like baking instructions.  I realize this tendency has saved me from becoming an alcoholic 3 times now, while I'm being honest.  I just couldn't keep up with the habit.  That is good news and also slightly creepy.  Alcoholism lost???  To habitlessness??  

To wake up and feel like there is nothing you really want to do is strange, now that I realize people probably don't wake up like I do.  Though I think most people can relate to that in some degree.  I assumed I was just a procrastinator, that I really did have habits but no.. what I do have a few of is compulsions.  That is almost more confusing.. like why I taught myself all the words to Lauren Hill's Doo Wop (That Thing).  I have to work harder at every fargen thing (I re-watched Johnny Dangerously recently) because none of it is involuntary, things I'm used to just doing "just" don't exist. I'm going to admit it is tiring.  There are no little motivations, even when I give myself some, I forget about them.  A reward does not give me any more urgency than no reward.  If you tell me that getting my drivers license is the only thing I need to do for you to buy me a car... I would think "That'd be nice" as if it were totally not up to me.  Even the reward of self satisfaction, which I like!, or of pleasing someone else by what a great damn job I did.  This is ridiculous to say, but true; I literally live based on if I feel like doing something or not.  I suck!  Awesome.  Welcome to your mid-twenties. 

Resolution I'd most like to accomplish this year:  Pick up a real habit.  That's right, while other people are resolving to quit things.  I'm resolving to quit quitting.

Thanks to Sean, the ice-hole who argued with me.  I appreciate it but if you do it again I'm going to punch you in your cork sucking mouth.  ;)


Amber said...

oh my god, suddenly it all makes sense. i have to tell brian to read this, maybe then he'll understand me and my "if i feel like it" attitude to everything.

happy almost birthday to babyface, by the way.

Benjamin said...

Differentiating between habit and compulsion is a fine line if you ask me. I suppose habit constitutes the frequent indulgence of like compulsions, but with a conscious acknowledgment of it's impact versus one's value system.

Initially upon reading this I thought that perhaps I was only subject to a lifetime of negative habits... rehab '02 being the culminating point of one such bad habit... but despite other identifiable bad habits, it occurred to me that things such as common courtesy, attention to proper use of English and providing a positive male figure for people in my life who are lacking, are all habitual aspects of my character that fulfill me in some way.

While they can't be relied upon to provide a reward-type motivation for their execution, they are undeniably habitual acts that lead to a sense of accomplishment that contributes to my sense of personal well-being.

I'm willing to guess that if you expand your definition to the allowable limits of habit, you will find a bunch great things you do with regularity.

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