Written August 30th, published September 2nd.
Late August has always reminded me of the feeling of deep sleep in which our bodies are caught between a seemingly tangible reality bordering the mysterious invitation of something completely foreign. During this time, the stress of everyday life and the hassle of school has not yet settled into our everyday lives allowing us to slow down and enjoy the final remnants of our past summer adventures. I usually tend to spend this time surrounded by friends who inspire me to look forward into the new school year with excitement.
This past afternoon was one of those exact moments where I felt motivated to think about my upcoming months as an unfamiliar university student with great reflection. As I was getting off the bus and making my way home from todays afternoon, I was wrapped up in a conglomeration of thoughts which left me restless about my upcoming school year. It wasn’t until I rounded the corner of my street that a sense of peace had fallen upon my shoulders and lifted all my senses of doubt. As I passed each house while carefully admiring the lush gardens surrounding every porch, I realized how familiar this route was to me. I was convinced that from this point in time I could navigate my way home blindfolded, backwards and in the dark…
For three years, day in and day out, this path has taken me home from school for as long as I could remember. Along this lane I had picked apple blossoms from trees which overflowed into the street from neighbouring yards, only to bring them home and gently lay them in narrow dishes of water to float effortlessly like water lilies. In the autumn, my hands would swiftly steal fluorescent leaves off of the bushes that peaked out from each fence to later press and dry them in the world atlas book that we kept on our coffee table. In the bitter months of winter, this street was merely a blur in time as I raced down a skating rink of ice paved by cars to escape the cursed back lash of winter air on ones face. During the spring, these streets were etched with the footsteps of my bicycle as I glided through puddles left behind by April showers. And finally, in the bittersweet month of June, this path became known as the road less travelled when school had timed out and left me not needing to follow this street’s map any longer.
Although I experienced a lot of seasonal change while walking this street, the familiarity of its landscape was something that felt as though it was suspended in time. This realization of ones continuos routine made me observe the simplicities of human nature which revolve around the habitual tendencies of ones character. Admitting to myself that there were other routes home was redundant as I always knew that I would gravitate to the road which I knew best.
As humans, I believe that we are habitual creatures who cling to anything that provides us with a sense of safety. For example, familiar things such as commonly visited places, our everyday surroundings and life long friendships make us feel comfortable. In theory, things that are familiar to us are generally registered as being free from danger due to the fact that we have survived continuous and prolonged exposure to these elements. For instance, you could be friends with the same person for five years. Spending time with them is like a habit as you don’t know any other alternatives to this friendship. But lets say that this person all of a sudden takes up smoking or becomes a toxic source of stress in your life. You might not realize it at first simply because spending time with them is habitual to you. Their infringement on your well being might very well go unnoticed because you are so used to this person being a constant foundation in your life. Thus, many people would argue that we as humans are conditioned into thinking that: “A known devil is better than an unknown angel.”
When speaking of humans as creatures of habit, it is not meant to be confused with the perception that all premeditated actions and behaviours are a result of mindless routine. In fact, human beings are the furthest thing from “mindless”. We, as members of an intellectual and global society, are an accumulation of conscious individuals who are actively interested in their social surroundings, physical environment, mental well-being as well as our spiritual sense of existence. Although a routine type element is present in human nature, habit differs from this observation as being something that human beings can control with the single handed capability of transforming ones actions.
I have often heard people say that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Perhaps this is exactly why my path home from school was so favourable in my eyes. But the explanation for my excitement in regards to new beginnings is surely more simple than a battle between the concepts of habit and routine. Could it be that I have felt trapped doing the same thing for so long that my craving form something entirely knew completely overthrew my sense of safety associated with all that is familiar to me? Is it possible that habit, routine and the 21 day rule are actually completely impractical as human desire for new adventure is really what drives us forward? These are all questions that I will have to answer for myself whereas for now, the best response that I could give my future self is to be excited with what is ahead. Habit it a fascinating concept held back by the reigns of self realization. After all, you know what they say: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” -Wiktor Biernacki.
Cheers to new beginnings *clinks glass*