Our habits make us
Posted on 22 Aug ’11 by Earl
“First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” – Denis Waitley
I’m sure you’ve heard proclaimed many times “We are all creatures of habit.” It certainly applies to me. Each morning at or a little before sunrise you’ll find me walking our two rescued dogs around our neighborhood. This isn’t a fast walk, for we can only go as fast as the slowest member of our trio and I’m happy I’m not the slowest one at the moment. Neighbors have gotten use to seeing us “out and about” and I’ve gotten use to tracking their schedules. I can tell you when most of them leave for work and what days they have off or are having a sleep-in. I can tell you who has company, who’s got a new car, who’s yard needs to be or was just been mowed. I can also tell you who has a car needing it’s headlights adjusted or sounds like it’s on its last legs. I can tell you they’re creatures of habit too. I do all of this not by choice but by habit, I’ve become the “neighborhood watch.”
In the twilight hours most neighbors expect us to be there and if driving slow down as they past. There are exchanges of good-mornings or at least a wave of the hand, although I’m not too approachable surrounded by two dogs.
You’ll find me on these morning physically stretched between two opposite ends of the dog spectrum — being the glue that holds this unlikely walking pair together (it was a challenge even getting these snapshots.)
Foster will be lagging well behind, often at the end of his 16ft leash sniffing each and every mailbox or clump of grass. He is my health challenged buddy, part Bassett and part Lab, who has regular seizures. It was for him this morning ritual began and he’s the controlling factor in how long each morning walk will take.
Maggie will be found at the end of her 16ft leash also, out front — checking to see if any neighborhoods dogs are about, at this hour usually not, and forever on the watch for those pesky cats and rabbits. She is my tenderhearted lady, part Greyhound and part Lab, who wants to please above all else. She was scared when we adopted her as a puppy but she’s finding herself now and gaining confidence each day.
Me, I have become a master of keeping two retractable 16ft leases from getting twisted or tangled, often dancing or almost pirouetting in the street as I juggle those handles over, under and behind my back. I am also the gathering point when a car comes, so practiced I don’t need to even utter a command any longer.
Habits become such a part of us and our daily lives. On those rare days I don’t walk with Foster and Maggie I miss it and they clearly demonstrate it’s something they miss as well.
“It is easy to assume a habit; but when you try to cast it off, it will take skin and all.” – H. W. Shaw
“We love our habits more than our income, often more than our life.” – Bertrand Russell
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” – Samuel Johnson
My life is full of habits, some good and some I’d like to cast off but struggle in doing so. Perhaps Goethe was right that there is some comfort even in the unpleasant things we have become accustomed to.
“Habit is a man’s sole comfort. We dislike doing without even unpleasant things to which we have become accustomed.” – Goethe
There’s been a lot of thought, study and written material on habits. It’s clear habits can be a powerful tool for “building” or “destroying.” I’ll keep the dog walking habit but ice cream at night…gotta go!