What a strange thing, to be alive. To be conscious and yet unknowing. To shove forward into the formless dark believing light must lie somewhere ahead, cloaked and scattered by obstacles that absorb our attention and sap our faith.
But shove forward we do, not out of virtue or spit or strength but something primal and undeniable, something that resists all reason and every hard-won past experience that tells us we shouldn’t. Habit. We live out of habit. And thank God that we do, because habit puts us to bed each night, habit wakes us to the sun each day, habit has us flossing and toiling and driving on the right to avoid collision and doing all that we do because we’ve always done it, we’ve always flossed and toiled and driven on the right, and our worlds only function if we do it. Even in the thick of impossible pain.
Habit got me and my kids through the first 24 hours after my husband’s death. It got us through the first week, then the first month, then the first year. It’s gotten us all the way through two years and eight months (almost), and it’ll get us through the next year and the next year and every year thereafter. It gets. It goes. We move. And as we move, only if we move, milling along through force of habit, we run across strange new joys. Habit can yield miracles, if we let it.
Because hoping and loving are habits, too. Often we do it and feel like fools. Hope for the wrong thing, love the wrong person at the wrong time, feel like a boob. KICK THOSE HABITS, the Ego barks at the Id. And don’t we all want to? Don’t we all wish we could? But then the drop-kicked habit yields another kind of pain, the ingrown agony of never loving, never hoping, never living. Better to love and risk being wrong. Better to hope as a rebuke to despair, as a veiny middle finger pitched into the darkness. Better to live out of habit, because only the habit can bring us to light.