Friday, April 01, 2005

Bad Habits

Bad habits are hard to break
and the worst of them was you . . .
J. Dinman

One of my yoga teachers reminds us that yoga teaches us to notice our habits--our habits of body (which way do you cross your arms? Interlace your fingers? Which leg is on top when you sit cross-legged?) as well as our habits of mind (How do you talk to yourself? What do you say when you or someone else makes a mistake?) and our other habits (Do you always sit in the same space? What's your favorite parking place or seat on the bus?) It's not that we should necessarily change our habits, but I think she's right that it's smart to notice them, and, perhaps, even to question them. When I was a student, when I was a teacher, and now in my yoga classes, I try/ied to vary where I position(ed) myself, but many people have their Favorite Spot, and you find the occasional person who gets visibly upset if you occupy His/Her Spot. I think moving around within the room helps my yoga practice; it's easy to get stuck in a routine, and, given my inclination to manage every damned thing, I have to remind myself about that.

That's really the crux of the matter. On the one hand, routines make complex life possible. Think of Simon's work on subassemblies, or whatever he called them, but also think about tasks like driving a car or riding a bike. You have to routinize some aspects of it ("chunk" the task, if you will), or it's impossible to perform the whole task. On the other hand, though, you run the risk of ossifying, of getting so stuck in a particular way of seeing or operating within the world, that you miss something. (There are things I'd just as soon ignore, but that's different.)

In any case, I find it to be an interesting, Heisenberg-like conundrum, how routines and subassemblies and mental filing systems both enable and disable thought and creativity. And I probably had more to say about this, and maybe I will later, but, for now, I'm listening to the siren call of what's left of the chocolate bunny in my desk drawer. One of my bridespeople introduced me to a store that makes chocolate, and it is evil. Evil, evil, evil, that chocolate is, especially for making me go there Wednesday, when all the Easter candy was sure to be on sale. So I figure I'll eat the whole bunny (or what's left of it), and then it can't tempt me any more. Of course, there's a whole box of chocolate, from the same place, at home . . .


Anonymous Jonathan Dinman said...

I was bored, googling myself and I get this on search page 23...the title of a song that I wrote approximately 25 years ago about a woman who was friends with another woman who I believe may be the elder sister of Ms. Goldman. Too coincidental not to be true?!

I'd completely forgotten about this song, and now can't get the chorus out of my head. What a pleasant artifict, object trouve, from a past life mostly forgotten.

As for habits, this was Camus' prescription for nausea.

-J. Dinman

10:42 AM  

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