2.13.2011

Habit, Repetition, Enjoyment


Not everything we repeat is a habit. On the contrary: when we repeat something, we live through that thing, we enjoy that thing in every sense of the word "enjoy."

There are two smokers standing there. One is smoking and probably doesn't even know it. The other is tasting the smoke, feeling the pull on the lungs, relishing the buzz. The first smoker smokes out of habit. The second smoker repeats smoking a cigarette — each cigarette is new, each drag lived through. This smoker is the same person at different times.

Sometimes, I do something and I enjoy doing it: I love a cocktail — usually tequila — around 5 or 6 in the evening. This is good for me. My body enjoys it. My mind enjoys it.

Sometimes, I pour the drink and, well, I didn't really want it but I did it anyway. Or I didn't know what I wanted so I poured the tequila when I should have poured scotch or coffee or kombucha or rye.

But when I'm living well, I'll stop and consider: Do I want a drink? Yes! What shall I drink? Hmn, how about tequila? Yes!

Habit doesn't say yes. Habit doesn't perceive per se.

Repetition says yes every time. Repetition enjoys it every time, again and anew.

Repetition demands a certain liveliness, a certain vitality, a certain attention — and that is difficult and exhausting (at least for me it is). Habit is a great temptation precisely because it doesn't demand a reckoning.

Shedding habit doesn't mean doing something different all the time. It demands living through whatever you're doing, even if it's the same thing all the time.

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