Our habits make us

Posted on 22 Aug ’11 by Earl Moore

Earl Moore Photography
Behind - Foster
Earl Moore Photography
In Front - Maggie



“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! :-(

 

What Others Are Saying

  1. Journey Photographic 22 Aug ’11 at 8:50 am

    I’m impressed by your ability to juggle the leads between two such different dogs without getting hopelessly tangled!

    Habits are incredibly powerful things, and so often, not matter how much you try to change them, as soon as you relax your vigilance they’re back again.

    • Earl 22 Aug ’11 at 10:15 pm

      JP, oh there have been times with those two leads I’ve almost been tied up like an old shoe…but not recently. I agree you’re never completely free of a habit. Thanks.

  2. Anita Jesse 22 Aug ’11 at 11:44 am

    I would dearly love to see that dance routine you have described. Still rising above the chuckle is the affection for and dedication to your two sweet dogs. Lucky ones they are to have found you.

    I have this notion that we never fully “break” habits. Like PJ, I think they may lurk out of sight waiting to find us with resistance lowered. I think our only hope is to substitute new, more productive habits for the ones we want to eliminate. I have a long list of bad habits that I have struggled with off and on for far too long.

    • Earl 22 Aug ’11 at 10:17 pm

      Anita, you would laugh heartily if you saw me “dancing”…I’m thinking there could be a circus act in my future. I agree with you and PJ…habits can be subdued or replaced but hey never fully disappear. Thanks.

  3. pj 22 Aug ’11 at 2:22 pm

    Habits extend into our photography too. How often do we find ourselves photographing the same kinds of things because they are familiar and comfortable? It’s a constant struggle, but an important habit to break.

    • Earl 22 Aug ’11 at 10:19 pm

      Right you are PJ…it’s easy to become comfortable with what we know in photography as well — good mention! Thanks!

  4. ken bello 22 Aug ’11 at 8:23 pm

    Those that don’t have pets don’t understand how we dearly love them and that we adapt to them as they to us. Your photography technique is superb considering the challenges you have. A word of warning – don’t go cold turkey on the ice cream. You may irreparably damage right side brain functions.

    • Earl 22 Aug ’11 at 10:22 pm

      Ken, oh my…I hadn’t though of the possible dangerous side-effects of going cold turkey on the ice cream. I may have to rethink this…maybe frozen yogurt for a while! ;-)

      Your on target about our pets…they quickly become card carrying members of our family.

  5. Colin Griffiths 23 Aug ’11 at 2:32 am

    Early morning habits, mine’s all about getting to grips with a large bowl of porridge, every day what ever the weather ~ can’t start the day without it!

    • Earl 23 Aug ’11 at 9:25 am

      Colin, I understand completely…the days not right without those things we’ve grown use to. Thanks!

  6. Don 23 Aug ’11 at 10:50 am

    Fine snapshots of your two dogs. I like the commentary on your early morning walks and all that you have learned that way. Speaking of habits…all us bloggers are practically welded to our blogging habit!:-)

    • Earl 23 Aug ’11 at 4:07 pm

      Absolutely right you are, Don. I need a break from this blog every once in a while but after a few days I begin to miss it again. Thanks!

  7. Chris Klug 23 Aug ’11 at 12:24 pm

    While my wife and I share the walking duites, I tend to get up earlier than she most days, so as you know once you are awake, our friends’ patience to wait any longer grows very slim indeed. We have adopted both our babies, a black and a chocolate lab. The chocolate is much younger and more energetic, but she follows the lead of her older ‘brother’ and doesn’t push and shove too much. Knowing what a challenge it is to wrangle the dual leashes, I am amazed you got any shots at all!

    • Earl 23 Aug ’11 at 4:13 pm

      Chris, I have yet to get up so early that they are not ready to walk. I think they take turns watching for me. It makes me very happy when I hear of rescued/adopted pets and I’m convinced they often make the best companions — I do love labs. These shots were done quickly with one hand using a small Canon S90…not all I shot were so successful. :-)

  8. Ray K 23 Aug ’11 at 3:56 pm

    Good to see Foster again. I am learning what a struggle that balance can be with the meds and worries.

    • Earl 23 Aug ’11 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks! We’ve reached a point where Foster’s seizures are simply another fact of life. We can’t predict them and we don’t seem to be able to stop them but at the moment we have a good quality of life between them — for that I’m grateful. Ray, was your reference to meds and worries referencing a current experience with a pet?

  9. Don Cooper 23 Aug ’11 at 3:58 pm

    Hope everything is OK after the earthquake.

    • Earl 23 Aug ’11 at 4:28 pm

      Don, thanks for asking. Yes, we are all fine — no damages here. Shaking occurred in varying degrees locally. It wasn’t noticeable in places while a short distance away it shook strong enough they evacuated buildings. They say it was a very shallow earthquake (3+ miles) which made it feel stronger. Very unusual around for here.

      And now here comes hurricane irene — “Spin once then rinse.” ;-)

  10. Mark 23 Aug ’11 at 6:31 pm

    Ha! I think you need an aerial photo of this situation Earl. :-) For now I can imagine what this looks like.

    I can completely relate to getting to know the neighborhood while walking your dog. It is much the same for me. Us dog walkers probably know at least the exterior bits of the neighborhood better than anyone else. I have also met quite a few neighbors that I would have otherwise never known.

    • Earl 23 Aug ’11 at 9:57 pm

      Hummm, now if I taped my S90 on a long pole looking down and rigged up a harness to hold the pole vertical on my back….oh, you’ve started trouble now, Mark! ;-)

      It’s surprising how much you can learn about the people in a neighborhood just by walking by each day and observing — probably more then they would suspect or want.

  11. Mark 23 Aug ’11 at 6:32 pm

    p.s. I actually felt the quake here in Michigan. Was more of an Earth Jiggle, but felt it nonetheless.

    • Earl 23 Aug ’11 at 9:59 pm

      Wow…for a 5.8 it travelled a long ways.

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