Force(d) (out) of Habit


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There are some things in my life which I have loved wholly, deeply, and passionately. I would pursue these with the drive of a hungry lioness with cubs to feed and an elderly antelope in sight. I went after them — fervently. After I chased down my objects of my desire, I’d languish and indulge.

Sometimes, I’d overindulge — spend too much time in both the pursuit and the self-defined “earned” enjoyment. Even when I’d yield to my gluttony, I’d circle back, explain away my excess, and forgive myself for my hedonism.

It could be all this “entitlement” is simply a privilege of adulthood; or perhaps, thinking myself worthy, it is a benefit to having the financial resources to fund these passions.

So, it became hunt after chase after pursuit.

Every one of these self-serving expeditions ending in 1) an adrenaline high, 2) an alcohol numbing, or — my favorite — 3) a nicotine head-rush.

And, I have to admit, all three results were — for years — a great solution to stress and anxiety. All three let me get out of my head long enough to not be bothered by a constant stream of thought.

(Those of you who have been reading this blog could probably attest to my many words. I’d guess, in my forty-some-odd blog posts, I’ve put down 15K words. Add to that my daily word count, we’re looking at close to a hundred thousand words in a month and a half. Point of reference: Nabokov’s Lolita was 110K. Second point of reference: Lolita is perhaps the greatest book written in the 20th century; I draw the comparison for the limited purpose of illustrating word count.)

Believe me when I say that all these words are only the tip of the thought iceberg. And for whatever reason, my iceberg has not had any substantial calving due to climate change.

But it has taken on a new form.

You see, I wasn’t getting much out of the daredeviling around on a two-wheeled motorized vehicle, or staring at the bottom of the far-too-regular bottle of gin, or opening up another pack of twenty coffin nails. I was getting a brief and intense rush or a short-lived muting, but not much else.

Since having bid a long, sad, though not remorseful, goodbye to these three loves, I’ve gotten quite a bit done. Even now at 6:05 PM, I’ve written these nearly 500 words. Not so long ago, I would have been many ounces deep into a double dirty martini. Yes, even on a Tuesday.

My life now is different. I can’t — and I won’t — say that “it’s better” because these three wonderfully self-serving things are gone from my life. I can only say that my life is wider and clearer and full of words eager to be written — and maybe even read.

Ideally, maybe even understood.

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