Human beings are often creatures of habit. I will say this is as true for me as it is for anyone eles, as I tend to have certain ways that are fairly well established and have been for a long time. For example, whenever I go into an Italian restaurant, the first thing I order is almost always some variant of chicken parmesian, which happens to be one of my classic comfort foods. However, I know that I am far from alone as a creature of habit, given that other people are the same way as well, a fact which makes people somewhat easy and often profitable to observe.
In the course of my life, I have the frequent opportunity to observe people and their patterns, and I try to make use of this knowledge either to provide some sort of food for thought and analysis or to find ways of dealing with the sort of patterns that I recognize. Some of the more odd patterns are the fact that people tend to haunt the same places at the same times. For example, on my walk to a nearby corner where I meet up with my ride, I routinely come across a woman and her young son waiting at the bus stop. It strikes me as a bit sad that the young fellow is always there at some ridiculous time in the morning when people should be sleeping, especially as he always ends up napping on the sidewalk, but the woman herself is friendly enough. Who knows why they are up and out so early every day; I suppose some day I might ask them. Then, of course, the last couple of days I ran into a fellow on a Segway going through the eastern part of Wilsonville, which struck me as a bit odd, considering most people would not be caught dead wearing a bicycle helmet and riding a Segway in public. Often our habits, and these would include mine, are something that would cause others some amusment.
One of the main reasons that we are creatures of habit to a greater degree than we could be is that habits are somewhat easy to form and are shortcuts that save us time and energy in making decisions. If I am okay with looking like a dork because it’s faster than walking, then riding a Segway around town might make some sense. (And, come to think of it, that is not terrible reasoning, so long as one has a definite range of travel and does not have to travel too far for too long that one’s Segway might get stolen.) Likewise, if I know I like chicken parmesian, then it is an easy thing to order it both as a test of new restaurants (to see if they are worth returning to) but also as a familiar dish that one enjoys that one does not have enough to be tired of it. The same was true when I was in Thailand, as I found a dish that I liked and stuck with it–krapow gai kai dow (basil leaf chicken with a fried egg on top). Being a moderately picky eater, once I find something I really enjoy, it is generally not worth looking around to see if there is something I might enjoy a little bit more given there is a high chance of enjoying it a lot less. This sort of love of familiarity and contentment with people, places, and food is something that is true in many areas of my life.
Though my own reasons for being a creature of habit when it comes to thinks I enjoy are not shared by everyone, they at least put a bit of purpose into my behavior. To put it bluntly, I have lived a life that has not always been very pleasant. Given the large amount of time and effort that it takes to find things that are pleasant and enjoyable for me, or that I feel comfortable with, I am not inclined to spend my whole life engaged in fruitless searching. As long as things remain good, I will remain content within my particular habits and patterns. As long as a person likes me around and remains good company, I am not prone to cut off communication and ties. Even if distance and lack of time should keep frequent communication from happening, my feelings about someone do not generally change so long as I know the state of the heart I am dealing with. The same would be true, on a vastly less serious level, with my comfort in the familiarity of a restaurant, given the same preference of the familiar and the good to large amounts of risk. In fact, given the cautiousness and circumscribed nature of my personal habits, I find the sort of daring life I have lived more than a little surprising. It is almost as if I have been compelled to be bold and brave despite my own native timidity. There are worse ways of breaking one’s patterns, though, than being brave in spite of one’s own nature.