Each Moment A Choice

My friends know that I recently returned from a different kind of vacation, especially at my age. My husband and I trekked in the Himalayas. The trek and being in India were challenging in many ways.
You know those little things that you do every day, consume every day, those little (or big) habits that break up the day? You know, coffee in the morning, check ep while drinking it, get some work done, get a sandwich at that place that makes them just the way you like, maybe a coffee drink in the afternoon, getting through the work day. Watch news while doing the crosstrainer. make dinner, have a glass of wine, eat dinner, watch The Daily Show and have the dessert that you made as a special treat for you and your husband, just a little thing, really, but then it became a habit every night. Fill-in-the-blanks with your favorite habits.
Well, in India, forget about it! All those little things aren’t there.  They like tea, not coffee. You might be able to get a cup of instant coffee. Half-and-half? Forget about it! Internet? When it’s working maybe, which it usually isn’t. Dessert? None or possibly fruit, which in my case I found out I couldn’t tolerate for some reason.  There were other things my digestive system couldn’t tolerate. So I ate a lot less. And it was okay. I didn’t die from not having my little things or from eating less.
The actual trek, of course, meant scaling down to what would fit in a duffle and a day pack.  Even less of those daily comforts! And again, I didn’t die from it.   My taste buds and appetite adjusted. And in fact, I came home with glowing skin, muscular from the trek, and five pounds thinner.
I am not ascetic by nature and I don’t want to live a life of deprivation, but I don’t want to be a slave to habit, either. My path has not been one of renunciation; it has been one of moderation. But moderation is tricky. It doesn’t do to compare yourself to others, especially in the United States. We are not a moderate nation! I was already moderate by comparison, but that doesn’t mean much.
I still like my half-and-half in my coffee in the morning, and it is an indulgence I can afford to have. I am not trying to give up all things that the Surgeon General would recommend. My diet was pretty good, over-all. What I want to challenge is habit. A certain time of day coming and salivating like a Pavlovian dog. Oh, it’s time for my Starbucks doubleshot lite, or it’s time to turn on the news and ride the crosstrainer. Better to ride the crosstrainer than sit on the couch, but do I really need to watch the news every day, especially when I’ve already got the gist of it from the internet?
I want to exercise choice, be mindful. Today, instead of riding the crosstrainer and watching the news, I did an hour of yoga. And it was hard. The resistance was there because I hadn’t done it in quite some time. Trekking may have made it even harder because I developed muscle but didn’t stretch. But I continued past the resistance.
I don’t expect every day to have the aliveness and clarity of trekking, but it woke me up to something. I want to stay awake, and challenge that part of me that wants to fall into the same repetitive, comfortable patterns.
I talked to my husband about this being the ideal time to challenge old ways. He said it was a good idea, but he seemed almost desperate to go back to old habits, with a vengeance.  He’s got some much worse habits than mine, and he may need to go the path of renunciation, if he ever gets uncomfortable enough.  But I am responsible for my own path, not his. I can only invite, perhaps express concern, and set limits when his habits affect me.
I am not renouncing ep! But I may change how I interact with it, and how much. Is what I am doing enlivening or deadening? That is the test for me. I’ll try to make each moment a conscious choice,  rather than an unconscious falling into. Wish me luck in my intention!
EvesHarvest EvesHarvest
56-60, F
1 Response Aug 10, 2010

What you point out is true, Alex. There are good habits that are life-reinforcing. And one can't really escape habit all together. It seems to be a hard-wired tendency in is. What was that phrase from "What The Bleep Do We Know?" Neurons that fire together, wire together. when they have been wired together undisturbed for a long time, it can feel like coming up against a wall.<br />
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I like the invoking of Shiva. And here's to planting good, resilient plants!