I texted the title of this blog to my wife this morning. It stemmed from the discovery of my main set of car keys in the pocket of a jacket I’d hung on the rack in the front room. I was a teeny bit concerned that I’d taken that set of keys with me on the trip to Iowa this weekend, then lost them somehow.
However I recalled that I’d specifically NOT brought those keys with me to avoid just such a problem. Having lost a set of keys (or two) in the past, I’ve developed habits that help prevent that from occurring. Thus I consciously avoided losing the main set of keys and all my fitness club passes by leaving them at home.
But I also recall using them to move vehicles the morning of my departure. So I must have tossed them in that coat pocket and left that jacket at home. This morning I gratefully felt the weight of those keys in one of the pockets as I pulled on that jacket.
When you’re an active person, especially a triathlete, it seems have your life is spent gathering stuff for the next training session or event. Just a swim practice alone can call for a bag of swimming implements; float, fins and board. Then there are goggles, anti-fog juice, swimsuit and a towel to remember. There’s also soap to get the chlorine smell off your body, and deodorant when the workout’s all done.
To get ready for swimming, I’ve developed a few habits to keep things organized. Nothing takes the will out of you like having to track down gear at 5:00 am.
Cycling’s a total pain when it comes to the amount of gear needed to hit the road. Helmet, sunglasses, shoes, Garmin, lights, bottles, nutrition and phones are on the short list of necessities it seems. Before all that one needs to choose the right clothing, which depends entirely on the weather, the wind, precipitation or sun.
No two rides are ever the same, but it certainly helps to have developed a few habits to organize the gear into general categories so that the assembly can take place. Cyclists go into action much like the comic book character Ironman. If only the gear would fly onto our bodies like his armored suit.
Of course there is also the bike itself to prepare, and the habits to make that a safe deal include checking the tires for proper inflation, oiling the chain and making sure there’s a spare tube (or two) in the kit just in case there’s a flat along the way. And don’t forget the CO2 and the implement to fill the tire. Sheez.
Even with all that preparation, things can still go wrong on the bike that no habit can prevent. I once felt a pedal come unscrewed on my cleat because the mechanic that worked on my bike the day before did not complete the work properly. That’s a weird sensation, losing a pedal. Fortunately, some rider in our group actually carried a pedal wrench with him. Talk about luck.
Well, there’s one more sport to consider before we’re done discussing the importance of habits and preparation. That’s the sport of running. Supposed to be simple, right? A pair of running shoes and shorts and off you go!
Not so fast.
I’ve been a runner for close to fifty years, and over that time running seems to have gotten a bit more complicated than it once was. We didn’t have much in the way of gear forty years ago. Running watches were in the early stages of development, with Casio and Timex leading the way. Having a digital watch was a cool deal back when there weren’t always splits read during races.
We sure didn’t have sunglasses either. Now there are brands specifically designed to suit runners, such as Goodr, that are both cool-looking and functional. Back in the mid-80s I got myself a pair of those huge Oakley’s that triathletes and cyclists were wearing. I ran a few races in them and frankly looked like some sort of reject from the movie Starship Troopers.
As for footwear, I’ve been through so many pairs of running shoes and styles and models it’s impossible to count. I have about ten pairs literally kicking around my bedroom. These include three pairs of New Balance. Two are for running, one just for show.
There are a couple/few pairs of Saucony Triumph ISOs too. A set of Newtons. One lone pair of bright red Nike shoes that I’ve only worn running once, and got a calf cramp. So they’re just for show too.
These shoes all rotate in and out from under the bed depending on what habit I’m trying to assuage. For casual or running? My wife thinks this is nuts, storing shoes under the bed. It’s an old habit, I guess.
More habits than sense
Add in all the other things I do in life and the number of habits required to keep things in order nearly spins out of control.
My artwork and studio always require organization. During the creative process, I tend to scatter jars of paint and brushes and reference sources all over the room. Then there’s the hauling materials and paintings around. Schlepping. I hate that part of being an artist.
I’m no pro photographer, but any photography fan can tell you that organizing your gear is everything.
The same goes for birding, another hobby that requires habits to keep track of binoculars and scope. The list goes on and on of things that require habits to keep track and find when you need them.
Now, I’m not complaining. Exactly. I like having multiple interests. I get bored otherwise. Too easily. That’s why I suffered in school. Could not muster the energy to pay attention when stimulation was lacking. So I drew. All over my papers. It was redirected aggression and a reflection of my own anxiety and creative tension.
Please, just don’t let me be bored.
It’s one of the tarsnakes of existence that to lead an interesting life you have to focus so much on keeping your shit together.
It all reminds me of one of my favorite lines from the movies The Longest Yard starring Burt Reynolds, the 1970s version. Somewhere early in the plot line, he pauses to reflect on his wayward life and remarks:
“I’ve had my shit together a long time. It just doesn’t fit in one bucket.”
Well, you can rest in peace now Burt, along with all your characters. The only habit the dead need to keep in mind is lying perfectly still. That actually sounds inviting in some ways.
But the long nap can wait. I’ve got habits to maintain in the meantime.
Got a fave habit you can share? firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comment section below