December 1st, 2010

NCC-1701 Nebula 1

The good habits

It happens almost every morning as I'm about to board the bus. I fold out my wallet to expose the central clear pocket that holds my bus pass, and I look past the pass to the two cards behind it -- two different debit cards in the same little pocket -- and then a quick look to the right to another, sturdier but still clear, pocket, with my driver's license. And, right behind it, my one credit card.

They're all almost always there. The one time one wasn't anytime recently was when I hadn't yet activated one of the debit cards so I'd left it on my desk -- in my well-locked building, fear not -- and there was that dissonant moment of Wait. Card not there? followed by Oh. That's why.

And, almost all of the time, the flowing moment of Pass, there. Debit cards, there. License and credit card, there. Good.

It's turned out to be a reassuring habit. At one point, sometime, it became a habit. I didn't wig to it until recently, but when I realized what I was doing I ran with it. A place for everything and everything in its place, which is possible even with my scattered head and my messy apartment. And it means that if the pattern is broken, I can more quickly realize it is and deal: run back the few blocks to my place, were that needed, for instance. Retrace steps. Account for everything that's usually accounted for. Having those cards is important, after all.

A helpful habit is a good habit. Helpful in its own way is my grounding habit. I lived from Grade 5 to Grade 12 in Norhern Virginia. This is a dry place in winter. Really dry. How dry? Static can build up to where it can practically arc out of your fingers like you're Emperor Palpatine using Sith Lightning+. Ouch. Inspired me to both A) write a poem that began "Now is the winter of our being shocked" (alternately "our being zapped") and B) ground myself, a little at a time, everywhere: touch edges of things, run a hand on (say) the side of a cubicle and let little bits of energy out so they don't build up explosively.

I haven't been in that dry part of the world at all since winter 1993 and I still do that. Course, the habit got reinforced when I moved to another dry area: Hermiston, Oregon. (Not dry in the "no drinking" way. This was the Nineties, not some decades earlier.) Semi-desert meant getting shocked again. I opted to get shocked a tiny little bit at a time. It wasn't until I spent a week in Spring 2000 in Seattle -- visiting a cousin and wondering if maybe I should move to that city -- that I noticed I was still touching stuff with no shocks whatsoever. Ah, moistness and temperate climate. But it meant that finally I was really especially aware of that habit. And I thought about it, and realized it was still useful, and in the decade since it's never really gone away.

Here's something to think about, where would we be now without good-ish habits?

Seriously. What habits do you realize are surprisingly useful habits for you? I'm curious.



+ Immortalized in this Peter David lyric I can still recite:
Sith Lightning, you're burning up the Jedi Knights
(Sith Lightning, go Sith Lightning)
Sith Lightning, you're good to have around in fights
(Sith Lightning, go Sith Lightning)
I am supreme
My victims scream
From Sith Lightning!
Heh. Thank you for being tuneful, Mr. PAD.