Habit forming

It was another early morning and what else would a wayward photographer do but grab his equipment and head to the lake.

I wasn’t in a particular rush as any sense of time-related urgency was assuaged by the fact that I had shot this many times before.

So, when the train crossing lights turned red and began their incessant flashing, I dutifully stopped and avoid the temptation to gun it before they were fully down. I never understand the idiots that do that, by the way. Life should never be risked for the sake of a few minutes.

I captured this image while waiting …cool colors, right?

Anyway, once the train had passed I continued on my journey and made it in plenty of time to catch what I was looking for.

Cup of coffee in one hand, camera mounted on tripod in the other, I strolled out to the end of the little boat dock and set myself up to begin taking shots.

But then I paused and just stood there for a little while. I stared off to the horizon, spoke a few words to my mom and dad, sipped the coffee a few times and just breathed it all in.

Peaceful is a word that comes to mind but in truth to use it here feels quite an understatement. Serenity is probably a better choice.

As I stared off, I recalled having the question as to whether I should go down to the lake at all. Particularly having been here so many times before. The feeling of serenity more than answered that question.

I have put some of the images at the end of the blog. Enjoy.

It was while driving back that I began to muse over why the older we get, the more habit performing we become.

Some might think it is a lack of adventure. Some might proclaim it is laziness. But it isn’t either.

Experience through growing older puts in our path, certain things that we truly enjoy. We establish our favorite foods, our favorite activities, and our favorite places to go.

This favoritism is a result of having explored avenues when we were younger, in order to find what it is we like or enjoy.

So, why wouldn’t I go there, is the real question. By exploring other places, I have found this to be the quietest, the least amount of artificial light, the most expansive view of water before the horizon … all just fifteen minutes from my front door.

For twilight, these are the important ingredients, not just for my shoots, but for my peace of mind. No matter what else has gone on the day before or how bad a night sleep it might have been, I know what is waiting for me at that boat dock and I just plug in and recharge.

As I have said before, it doesn’t even matter if it is cloudy or foggy … I still get such a boost in starting my day down there.

But there is a balance and I need to remind myself that there is.

A balance between comfort and exploration. Neither one by itself is the right approach to life. To stay on either end of the spectrum makes our lives too sedentary to where life hold no further challenge or too thrill-driven and therefore unable to appreciate the things we have learned along the way.

When we analyze ourselves and look at our habit behavior, it is a good idea to firstly ask how much of ourselves is driven by habit and how much is not. (A secondary question is to examine our habits and ask if they are good habits or bad. We all have bad habits of course, but they shouldn’t define us. If they do, then we need to break them.)

But I can look back on a given period of time (a week for example) and ask myself how many out-of-the-ordinary experiences did I seek during that time. And how many habitual things did I follow.

Now, I am not talking about things that happened to me. These are outside our control, so I am really more interested in the things I sought out. This is a truer measure of balance.

These sought-out activities will be mired in the middle of mundane commitments. So, again don’t confuse things you have to do, with things that you seek to do.

If you can look back on a given period and create a short list of unusual activities and habit-based activities, you will have a sense of where the balance is in your life. The younger you are, the more the balance will be in favor of the unusual. The older you are, the more habit-based your activities will be.

But remember, young people who are living a life based on continually unusual activities are generally flaky and unreliable. Older folk who always follow a habit-based schedule are stodgy and boring.

I found out years ago that by virtue of my circle of friends (most are in their 20s and 30s), there is a very real influence of the unusual and the experimental that works to keep me living younger than my years.

Similarly younger people who have older-influence within their friend base, tend to get more stability, responsibility, and reliability into their lives.

Before humans segmented into age-based groups, they lived within family-based structures and influences between the age groups were more real and evident.

My belief is that we live fuller lives when we have a balance that is flavored with the experience of age and the adventure of youth.

… just a thought.