Habits

I was sitting in the bathroom the other day when I felt something on my neck. With well practiced efficiency, I grabbed the wood tick between the nails on my thumb and forefinger, placed him in the center of a piece of toilet paper, wadded it up, tossed it in the toilet, and flushed it away. This required no thought on my part, as it is a ritual that is performed many times each year during tick season.

That event made me think about habits, and I clearly remembered my aversion to habits during my teen years. In my family structure, all decisions were made for me, and often, it seemed, as a show that what I wanted or needed didn’t matter as much as the fact that I was under control. I rebelled, as I did so many times when I was pushed. I decided that habits were a curse. That being free to do as I pleased when I pleased was the goal, and I avoided habits as much as possible. In my early adulthood, no longer under the parental yoke, my days were unencumbered by habit and routine as much as possible.

Somewhat later in my adult life, a friend of mine told me he had once worked as a draftsman. He said he noticed two strategies among his colleagues. Some used a drafting tool, and left it on the table. They repeated this throughout the day. By the end of the day, all their tools were in layers on their table. My friend observed that they sometimes struggled to find what they needed in the mess. The other type opened a drawer, pulled out a tool, used it, opened the drawer again, and put it back. Every time. My friend observed that these people spent almost no time looking for anything. My friend decided to copy the later group.

It is lucky we are not granted the ability to see in the future. If my teen-aged self would have seen what a habit infested senior citizen I would become, I might not have made it to adulthood. My slippers always sit in the same place by my bed. The contents of the bedside table do not vary. I can reach into my drawer and know exactly what is in there, and where each thing is. My pajamas are either on, or hanging on the hook on my closet door.

And the tools in my workshop? I’ll bet you could name a tool in my workshop, blindfold me, and that I could make a pretty good stab at walking up and putting my hand on or near that tool. To this day I believe the effort to keep things neat and organised is well worth the effort. Out here in the country, we can’t depend on a Lowes ™ being open 7 days a week for supplies and tools. I have to have a stock of tools, pipe fittings, wire, lumber, and many other things so I can cobble together what I need without jumping into the truck. And I’ve gotten pretty good at it too. The struggle is to make sure things that are no longer useful don’t hang around. Getting rid of a formerly useful tool or a potentially useful 2×4 is not in my nature, but I’m working on it.

2 Responses to “Habits”

  1. Catriona says:

    “I’ll bet you could name a tool in my workshop, blindfold me, and that I could make a pretty good stab at walking up and putting my hand on or near that tool. To this day I believe the effort to keep things neat and organised is well worth the effort.”

    Me, too – with everything, not just workshop tools. As a single adult household with 2 little kids that was a necessary survival skill. I’m working on being more relaxed about it with Derek in the house (6 years and counting) and the kids now adults…

    “You can use my scissors, but they better be back in the right place next time I go to use them…”

  2. Ted Soldan says:

    I don’t know if that makes us weird or not, but it works, so that is good enough. Not to be snooty or anything, but I pity the disorganized souls out there. 🙂

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